(Harrisburg) — Seeking to keep vital government programs and services operating while state budget negotiations continue, Senator Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) voted to override a number of Governor Rendell’s recent line item vetoes of Senate Bill 850.
Yaw said the governor indicated that the vetoes were done on certain line items to “gain leverage” in the budget negotiations.
“While the Senate sought to restore funds to these critical programs, the effort failed, primarily along party lines,” Yaw said. “Thirty-three votes are needed to override the governor’s veto and 30 Senators voted to restore funding to the programs immediately which left the effort three votes short of the requirement.”
Yaw said the programs which were to be the subject of the veto override attempt were:
- PHEAA–Education Assistance Grants to students—-$386.2 million
- Public Welfare–Community Mental Retardation, domestic violence, rape crisis, child care services, child care assistance, county child welfare—$1.535 billion
- Department of Military and Veteran’s Affairs–veteran’s assistance, disabled American veterans transportation, veteran’s outreach services, transfer to education assistance program—$9.4 million
- Agriculture–Farmer’s market food coupons, state food purchase (food banks)—$20.2 million
- Health–assistance to drug and alcohol programs—$41.8 million
- Insurance–Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)—$86.9 million
- Welfare–Homeless assistance—$25.6 million
- Community and Economic Development (DCED)–Customized Job Training—$9.0 million
- Pa Housing Finance Agency (PHFA)–Homeowner’s Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP)—$9.9 million.
“The position of the Democrats who argued against these appropriations was that a final overall budget might give more than what the governor had requested and that which was approved by the Senate on May 6, 2009,” Yaw said. “To provide no funding because more might be available later is logic which I do not understand. It is like saying we will not throw a drowning person a lifeline because a bigger boat might come along later. That is flawed reasoning at best. Clearly the tactic is to cause as much grief to as many vulnerable persons as possible.”
Yaw said the Senate Republicans do not believe that the lives of citizens should be used as a negotiating tool in any budget process and will continue to fight for the citizens of the Commonwealth and make funding available for these critical programs.
Contact: Rita Zielonis