Budget Standoff Sends Legislators Packing

By Brent Sailhamer, Director of Government Affairs

At nearly 200 days overdue, Pennsylvania’s budget impasse is rapidly approaching the worst in history. On December 29th, Governor Tom Wolf signed a partial budget, exercising line-item veto power over several items, including the state’s education funding, claiming that the Republican-controlled legislature has underfunded the public school system. Now, with no end in sight and the 2016 campaign season just weeks away, some legislators are throwing in the towel and walking away from Harrisburg altogether.

Last year’s legislative grind showed signs early on that it would be difficult; shortly after being unceremoniously ousted by his colleagues, former Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi announced that he would be running for Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Judge. Similarly, Rep. Tim Krieger ran for Court of Common Pleas in Westmoreland County. Both legislators had enough by early 2015.

After a miserable fight that ended with no legislative victories in 2015, more legislators have decided that the time is right to say goodbye. Longtime House Appropriations Chairman Bill Adolph (R-Delaware) announced that he would not be seeking re-election in 2016, joining House Professional Licensure Chairwoman Julie Harhart, who has served in the state House since 1994. Also retiring are Sen. Pat Vance (R-Cumberland), Rep. Sandy Major, who currently serves as the House Republican Caucus Chair, Rep. Pete Daley (D-Washington), Rep. John Payne (R-Dauphin), Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia), Sen. Shirley Kitchen (D-Philadelphia), and Rep. Nick Kotik (D-Allegheny).

With several more legislators rumored to be contemplating retirement, the list of those who have had enough will surely grow over the next few weeks.