Once the PA House is back in session, there are a number of issues that need to be addressed

September 15 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has been out of session since July and is scheduled to return on September 26, after a special election that was called when a representative stepped down to fill a role as a county executive in Allegheny County. 

The PA Senate returned for a few days in August and will be back to work on September 18, 19 and 20. 

Before all the recesses happened, Governor Josh Shapiro signed the 2024 budget in August, with a line-item veto of the $100 million Lifeline scholarship program that would help students in the lowest performing 15 percent of PA schools.

The total PA budget is $45.5 billion. 

When the House reconvenes, it will be time to go to work to get the details of the budget ironed out.  

PA Representative Rich Irvin said, “I think our caucus is definitely going to be looking at exactly what the Senate has sent over to us in the fiscal code and deciding what direction we want to go with that. We’ll also find out what direction the House Democrats are going to move forward and whether they will agree with that. There’s been some issues that the Senate has pulled out some money because they did not get the school program that they were looking for. So it was a deal that they made with the governor and the fact is that the spend number on this budget was probably higher than what it would have been if we would have not had the $100 million Lifeline Scholarship. The idea is that I think the Senate and I think us as House Republicans, we need to bring that spending number down. Because the idea is we will have a structural deficit and going forward, not knowing what is going to happen with the economy, we can end up having a deficit with our revenue over expenditures going forward. That could lead to what the Democrats are probably pushing for is a tax increase. That’s really the last thing I want to put out to the citizens of Pennsylvania whenever we do actually have this inflation that is going crazy right now.”

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “We have a historic spending on education again, and like you said the governor betrayed a promise he made to the GOP senators. What do you think the Democrats are going to be most upset about that the Senate has fooled around with or changed in what they sent back in the codes?”

Irvin said, “I think the whole home repair is definitely a big issue.”

One piece of the budget is $50 million for a project called Whole-Home Repairs Program, which funds basic repairs and energy efficient upgrades for PA homes. The details will have to be hashed out in the fiscal codes before the money can be distributed.

Jansen added, “We have to remember, that’s a lot of the green energy stuff. That’s a huge agenda item for the Democrats. Is there any different kinds of legislation you’ll be paying particular attention to when you come back in session?”

Irvin said, “Myself, I’m actually moving forward on trying to put together a revamp of the tax sale wall in Pennsylvania, myself having a background as county treasurer and tax claim director. That’s something that I’m going to be working towards and trying to move forward on revamping that and shorten the actual time line that it takes a property to go from delinquent taxes to tax sale. Right now you have a lot of third party collection agencies out there that are buying up tax liens, and it’s really confusing for an individual who is unable to pay their taxes because they have to pay it to a tax claim dealer, then they have to go to a third party lawyer, company or attorneys, but we also need to build in a way to protect the property owner who cannot make their payments. That’s something I want to build into the legislation as well.”

Jansen noted, “Obviously we’re having more and more people finding themselves in a situation like this because of what’s happening with our spending, with things changing in the country that are causing people’s dollars not to go as far. I know, myself, utility bills are going up like crazy. Are any Democrats in our state coming to any kind of realization that some of the policies that are being put in place both at the national level and then at our state level are causing people to have these financial difficulties? Do you see any idea that they’re realizing some of these policies are at fault?”

Irvin said, “We do have some moderate Democrats that I’m good friends with and I get along with in Harrisburg that they do realize that but it’s unfortunate that I do believe that Republicans actually try to solve problems and pass legislation that’s good for Pennsylvania, and Democrats more or less, they govern from election to election. What are they going to pass that’s going to make them look good and make sure that they can come back in the majority? The best thing, the most important thing that we can do right now in the House of Representatives is try to come back in the majority next year.”

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “There are plenty of scoundrels in the Republican Party. It’s time to get along. I understand what you’re trying to say here. There are some good eggs in the Democrat Party and some good eggs in the Republican Party. But to your point, I don’t want to throw all of them out saying with that blanket of a statement. There are some fighters in there. We’ve got the guy in Philly who said you know what? These schools are terrible. He was in the fight for that $100 million to try to help the worst performing public schools with the worst people at the worst in their financial makeup, poorest of the poor and trying to hold this governor accountable. You talk about one of the ones to go along get along. Josh Shapiro doesn’t care a lick about Pennsylvania. His next dream is to get to DC and whoever’s pushing his agenda forward, go back to the lie that Josh Shapiro is. It seems like lying is okay. But there are good people in the parties that are trying every single thing. I don’t want to throw every Democrat out.” 

Jansen said, “Senator Anthony Williams is who you’re thinking of. He crossed party lines to support that.” 

“Because he’s in the grocery stores,” Ryan contended. “He sees the kids failing. He sees the poor family. He’s not going to another rubber chicken dinner and getting his fanny kissed. He’s actually in the scrum with the rest of the people that are hurting and Josh Shapiro doesn’t know anything about hurting. Josh Shapiro’s kids and he are going to go to private schools. So he doesn’t have that sense. He doesn’t have that feeling and anybody who thinks otherwise, then you’re behind Joe Biden.”

Jansen said, “Power plays and votes and things being done just to keep yourself in office are a mistake. I think that there are more Republicans than Democrats who see the value of rebutting to that kind of thinking. Here’s a good example. Democrat policies want to pretend like it doesn’t matter if we secure our borders or not. Meanwhile, we got Border Patrol to come to Pennsylvania to help us catch a murderer who was murdered in his home country of Brazil. They weren’t allowed to vet him at the border. So we’re vetting him here in Pennsylvania through the death of a poor woman. She ended up being the whistleblower on this guy. She found out about his murder, apparently was willing to expose that and that’s the reason he decided to murder her in front of her children. Then we have Border Patrol coming here to catch this guy. Yet we have Governor Shapiro who supports all these policies, cheering about how wonderful our police are. We caught this guy, meanwhile, not acknowledging those policies that they support about open borders and not caring whether we vet people or not leading to this tragedy, but we see no self reflection there.”

Irvin said, “It’s one of those issues that the federal government has full control over our borders and what can we do at the state level in order to try to change that? One of the things is the House getting back in the majority so we can actually push policy that would go up to this administration to say please don’t do this anymore. Do not be allowing illegal immigrants to be shipped into Pennsylvania by this administration on undocumented flights coming into State College or Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. At this point in time with leaving those immigrants coming into the country and into Pennsylvania, it’s just stretching our resources even further than what they should be, in a time whenever we don’t have the law enforcement. We don’t have the correction officers. We don’t have the manpower that is truly needed to just handle the current situations and the issues that we do have.”