- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—HARRISBURG — An override of Gov. Tom Wolf’s recent state budget veto is possible if negotiations to end a lengthening stalemate do not progress, a House Republican leader said Monday.

Speaking before the Pennsylvania Press Club, Speaker Mike Turzai, R-28, Pittsburgh, offered no timetable for when a bipartisan budget deal to end the 27-day stalemate could be reached or an override vote scheduled to turn the vetoed GOP budget into law.

He said his caucus will not vote on any hike in state taxes if privatizing the state liquor stores is not part of a deal. He called Mr. Wolf’s proposed severance tax on natural gas production “phony” since Pennsylvania already levies an impact fee on drillers.

“The goal is to get the governor to realize he doesn’t have the votes for what he has put on the table,” said Mr. Turzai.

It would take a two-thirds vote in both the Republican-controlled House and Senate to override the governor’s veto, which means that crossover support from Democratic lawmakers is necessary.

There are no Democratic votes for an override, said Bill Patton, spokesman for House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-33, Allegheny County.

“This is a time when everybody should be focused on productive discussions and finding common ground on a state budget,” said Mr. Patton. “An attempt to override a veto would be fruitless and counterproductive.”

Mr. Wolf has proposed a combination of tax increases and tax shifts to address a $1.5 billion budget deficit, education funding and property tax relief. GOP lawmakers passed a budget with no tax hikes and focused instead on selling the liquor stores and reducing pension benefits for new state government and school district employees.

Mr. Wolf vetoed that budget and related liquor and pension bills earlier this month.

Mr. Turzai said his caucus is prepared to borrow money to run its operations if a surplus runs dry with no budget in place.

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