Should our state representatives really get a week off to celebrate Juneteenth? 

May 23 – Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Joanna McClinton announced recently that the House will not be in session the entire week of Juneteenth so legislators can celebrate. 

Keep in mind the budget is due June 30. 

Is the middle of June really a good time to take a whole week off? 

PA Representative Rob Kauffman said, “I believe the Juneteenth designated holiday is Wednesday of that week. When I left the Capitol yesterday, I got notification that the legislative session was changed, looked at it and saw that the rest of the week was canceled.” 

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM said, “So listen, have a holiday. I’m fine with the holiday. That’s terrific. The 19th, good, whatever you want there, but excuse everybody so close to when the budget is due for an entire week that does no service. I don’t care if you celebrate Juneteenth or not. You’re getting the short end of the stick.” 

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM added, “And then it’s every day, including Saturday and Sunday, right up to the 30th.” 

Ryan said, “There’s all the per diems and the overtime and then all the staffers that have to be paid there. So you’re taking the whole damn week off.”

Jansen pointed out, “Then you’re pushing everything into the last week, which always makes for great legislation, doesn’t it?”
 

Kauffman said, “It’s important to know that the Constitutional process of doing the budget starts in the House. A spending bill, an appropriations bill begins in the House of Representatives. So we’re the kickoff. So, we’ll give them a moment. But if we start the process and kick it off here in the next couple of weeks, I’m not extraordinarily optimistic because I haven’t heard anything.”

Jansen noted, “Well you go to the 28th, the House is scheduled but then the Senate is scheduled out to the 30th and I’m so glad you guys will be working, squishing it all into that last week because that makes for the best legislation.” 

Ryan said, “I think I sense a little sarcasm in that tone.”

Did the legislators get a chance to vote on this week-long vacation right in the middle of budget season? 

Ryan said, “It’s the people’s money of the Commonwealth. Why don’t we just take the whole damn week off? Was there a vote on this at all?”

“No,” Kauffman confirmed. 

“Who makes that decision?” Ryan asked. 

Kauffman said, “The Speaker of the House, Joanna McClinton.”

Ryan continued, “She decides by the stroke of a pen that she’s going to put this kind of stress on the Pennsylvania taxpayers so close to a budget being due? That’s right? One person?” 

Kauffman said, “One person. I literally was leaving the capital region last afternoon and I got the notification on my device.”

“Asinine,” Ryan lamented. “It’s a Democrat majority, so it probably would have been voted to move forward anyway. So it would have been dead in the water anyway, but it would have been very nice to actually have people go on record going you know what? No, that’s a disservice to the taxpayer that I’m not working to get a budget for the taxpayers. I’ll tell you one other thing here, you guys better come up with a budget on time.”

“Oh no,” Kauffman predicted. “I would put money on us going past June 30. I just can’t imagine that it happens on time. They’ll put some kind of lipstick on the pig.”

Jansen added, “I love how Shapiro said oh well the funding of education in that whole voucher program thing that I talked about when I was running for candidate for this position. That’s really the key and I’m not saying anything but it’s all go ahead guys. Take it, take it. There’s Mr. Leadership. I wasn’t being sarcastic. That is what he said. You guys just take it.”

Kauffman said, “That is how he’s been governing. Go out, do PR opportunities. Go send out press releases. Go take credit for things that you probably didn’t even have anything to do with and do not weigh in on the serious policy issues that are before the legislature and say what you’re for and what you’re against, so we can make it happen in a timely fashion. He goes out, gets the cameras and says oh yeah, you do it. You do it. And then he’ll figure out what’s going to happen in the end.” 

Ryan said, “I’m all for recognizing and acknowledging the day and the date. That’s fine. Taking a week off at your expense in the Commonwealth, that’s highway robbery and it hurts everybody. If you celebrate Juneteenth or not, you’re getting screwed by the speaker in Harrisburg. Nice job. You have no people doing work on your behalf for an entire week for one day to be recognized and it’s one person’s decision to give everybody a pay week off.”

“That is correct,” Kauffman confirmed.