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Shapiro chastises Senate Republican leadership for not compromising with House Democratic leaders

Facing criticism over a last-minute budget compromise, Gov. Josh Shapiro urged Senate leaders to approve a final budget.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Facing criticism over a last-minute budget compromise, Gov. Josh Shapiro chastised Senate Republican leadership for passing a budget without reaching a consensus with House Democratic leaders.

“It’s now the responsibility of the House and Senate to find a way to work together and iron out those details," Shapiro said. “They need to talk to one another. They need to understand each other’s perspectives and they need to meaningfully engage with one another and they need to learn how to close the deal together.”

The comments followed fallout over Shapiro’s announcement Tuesday that he would veto his own proposal of using state-funded vouchers for private schools. The governor said he made the decision to avoid further delay of the budget, which is already more than a week past due.

“Unwilling to hold up our entire budget process over this issue, I will line-item veto the full $100 million appropriation and it will not be part of this budget bill,” Shapiro said in a statement on July 5.

School-choice advocates denounced the cancellation of the voucher plan, saying the governor betrayed Senate Republicans, who made spending concessions in the budget in return for the vouchers.

“It is unfortunate because he’s probably ruined a level of trust that will be very difficult to regain with still three and a half years left in his administration,” said Matt Brouillette, CEO of conservative group Commonwealth Partners.

Teachers unions applauded the decision, saying that the debate over vouchers was a distraction from a big win for education overall: $1 billion allocated to public K-12 schools.

“We’re grateful that lawmakers have advanced this budget forward that makes those investments,” said Chris Lilienthal, assistant director of communications at the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA). “We also recognize that this is the first step. This budget is really a down payment on a long-term fix to our unconstitutional public school funding system.”

Another big winner in the $45.5 billion budget are low-income homeowners. The 1-year-old Whole Home Repairs program got another $50 million to repair and weatherize houses. Though well short of the $300 million requested by the program, advocates said the amount would help supplement last year’s initial $125 million investment.

“Everywhere it’s being rolled out, demand far exceeds the available dollars. We’re excited that the state and this governor have committed to making this a permanent program,” said State Sen. Nikil Saval (D–Philadelphia).

Senate Republicans could still hold up the budget’s passage, as the governor can’t sign the final budget without first getting the signature of the presiding officer of the Senate.

Currently, the Senate is not scheduled to return to session until Sept. 18.

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