Voters are currently blaming legislative Republicans much more than Tom Wolf for failing to compromise on a state budget.
54%–more than half!–blame the legislature, and only 29% blame Wolf. Naturally, this has Republicans looking for an exit, and you can see the appeal of the stop-gap measure for them. It’s a total political bailout for Republicans that Wolf would be silly to sign.
First, they get to essentially extend the Tom Corbett budget that voters rejected at the polls for another few months. If it works once, they can run that play again and again for years and basically nullify Tom Wolf’s election.
Second, it changes the politics in a way that’s unfavorable to Democrats. School districts and non-profits and service providers aren’t getting paid, and they’re bringing some pressure on lawmakers to get the budget done. If Republicans pass a stop-gap plan, that pressure shifts to Tom Wolf to quickly agree to it.
What needs to happen now is for Tom Wolf to make clear not just that he’d prefer to get a full year budget done right now, but that he’s not going to sign anything less than a full year’s worth of funding. This isn’t good enough:
It is not clear whether Wolf would sign stopgap legislation.
The governor has made no decision on that and “would prefer to work expeditiously toward a final budget agreement,” spokesman Mark Nicastre said Friday.
Wolf still isn’t taking on very much damage from this, so why bail out the opposition when a decent deal is right around the corner?
Once Wolf pops the stop-gap balloon, the pressure shifts back to Republican leadership to free southeast and south central suburban Republicans to make a deal with Wolf and the Democrats.