Pennsylvania House Republicans denounced an unknown fellow lawmaker Tuesday for allegedly casting votes in favor of the Democrat alternative budget for at least two representatives who weren’t actually present.
Republican Sen. Scott Wagner was first to raise the issue. In an email to subscribers, he called the vote an instance of corruption after witnessing it firsthand. Democratic Reps. Pete Daley and Leslie Acosta apparently voted in favor of the budget despite not actually being present.
“I did what I was required to do,” Daley told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I didn’t give permission to anyone.”
Daley was on leave when the vote occurred. He notes that no one had his permission to vote on his behalf. Even if he did give permission, it still would violate the rules. The vote allows a $30.8 billion long-term framework budget to come up for consideration against the Republican short-term stopgap budget.
It is not yet known who allegedly cast the ghost-votes. While the alternative budget is a Democratic plan, it still has support from an additional 24 Republicans.
Critics of the Republican stopgap budget note the biggest concern is that it provides only short-term funding. The proposal would mean lawmakers would have to address it again sooner than if they passed a long-term framework budget. The stopgap budget, however, is designed to provide funding for the state which has gone without a budget because of a six month stalemate.
Republicans have been trying to rein in spending. The problem is, they have gone after programs, like pensions, Democrats tend to support. Republicans have a majority in both the House and Senate but have been unable to secure enough votes to pass a budget. Additionally they would still need a signature by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.
Pennsylvania is among the many states currently in a pension crisis. A proposal to reform the pension system proposed Dec. 7 failed to pass the state House. State union leaders led much of the push to oppose the reform. The SEIU claims the failed reforms would not actually address pension debt in the state, but would actually increase costs upwards of $2 billion.
The Commonwealth Foundation found the state has $50 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. The failed pension reform proposal was not designed to impact current contracts, but to prolong pension payments for future retirees. Nevertheless, critics argued it will result in unlawful pension cuts. The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO has also rejected the proposal as dangerous.
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