A three-month budget should be a non-starter for Tom Wolf, and he should immediately make clear that he’ll veto anything less than a full fiscal year’s worth of funding.
What the Republicans want to do here is essentially extend the Tom Corbett budget for another three months. And then another. And then another. And on and on for four years, as each stand-off leads to more can-kicking, and more extensions of the brutal 2011-2014 Republican education cuts.
The veto pen is the greatest tool anybody has in this debate, and as long as Wolf makes clear he’s going to use it, he can powerfully shape the terms under which the budget is debated. It forces Republicans to find a supermajority for another Corbett budget, and that’s just not going to happen.
After Leanne Krueger-Braneky’s special election win in Delco on Republican turf Tuesday night, there’s no way southeast suburban Republicans are going to provide the votes necessary for a veto override.
As long as Wolf keeps credibly promising to veto the Corbett budget, and doesn’t let himself get cowed by the media trying to shame him for a late budget (a total non-issue invented by Republicans when they were trying to pressure Ed Rendell to abandon his priorities in a similar situation) then he is going to win this.
Wait long enough, and the Republicans will take on more and more damage, and eventually knuckle under on the “majority of the majority” trick that’s slowing things up. Then suburban Republicans and the minority Democrats will hash out a deal on a severance tax, property tax reform, and education funding increases and everybody can go home and have a nice Christmas with their families.