Breaking News
More () »

Pa. Democrats lament lack of bipartisanship in split government | Price of Politics

Pennsylvania is one of eight states in the country where the governor is one party and the legislature is controlled by the other.

In Pennsylvania, Republicans write the laws while the Democratic governor provides the checks and balances. 

In theory, it's a system which should make for equal cooperation between the executive and legislative branches of the commonwealth's government, and it does, depending on who you ask.

Democrats, like State Rep. Patty Kim (D-Dauphin) lament the lack of bipartisan efforts by her Republican colleagues.

"Maybe if I would have just yelled a little louder at those rallies I would have gotten my mimimum wage bill passed," she jokes, then makes a buzzer sound. "Yeah, not quite."

Republicans have controlled the legislature for 23 out of the last 30 years, including the ten. In Pennsylvania, when you're in a position of power, your party decides what bills even get brought to the committee floor for discussion, let alone a vote or what gets passed. However, in the same 30 year time span, Democrats have held the governor's chair for all but three terms -- eight years of Tom Ridge and Mark Schweiker, and four years of Tom Corbett. 

"It's a little messy having divided government at times but people of Pennsylvania seem to like it," said Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Mifflin). 

Messy, sure. Whether Pennsylvanians like it is dependant on who you're speaking to.

In the 2019-20 legislative year, the House of Representatives started the session with a 111-92 Republican majority. In that time, according to House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster), the House passed 650 bills; 94 percent had bipartisan support, while 64 percent passed the House by unanimous vote.

However, a wider view of the legislature's action's last session show a different picture when it comes to bipartisanship.

A FOX43 review of the entire 2019-20 session revealed, of the 4,198 bills introduced by state lawmakers, only 95 bills which passed out of committee in the House were from Democratic sponsors, all but 10 had a Republican co-sponsor. Once the legislation made its way through the same process in the Senate, there were 16 Democrat-led bills to end up on the governor's desk. 

In the Senate, of the 240 bills which passed out of committees, 49 were from Democrats, and four had no GOP sponsorship. Only three Democratic bills to orginate in the Senate landed in front of Governor Tom Wolf.

"It's incomprehensible to me that the only measures (Pennsylvanians) want us to vote on are 93 percent Republican bills," said Jay Costa, Senate Minority Leader (D-Allegheny). "We need to have better balance. I'm not looking for 50-50."

Republicans have argued plenty of good, important bipartisan legislation has gotten done since Tom Wolf was sworn-in as governor in 2015, including pension reform and medical marijuana legalization. 

However, activisits believe Pennsylvania lawmakers need to be doing more for what taxpayers are paying them, a starting salary of $90,335, the third highest rate in the country.

RELATED: Price of Politics: More than 81% of all bills introduced in Pa. never left committees | FOX43 Capitol Beat

Before You Leave, Check This Out