Lehigh Valley

Governor, general assembly sued over unbalanced budget

VIDEO: Unbalanced Pennsylvania budget...

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and the general assembly have been sued over the state's unbalanced budget. 

"When lawmakers become lawbreakers, the integrity and functionality of important governmental institutions are under attack," said Matt Brouillette, a plaintiff on the lawsuit.
He's also president and CEO of the Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs, an organization that advocates for free market principles.  

"Our Constitution is very clear--they cannot spend more money than what they bring in," Brouillette said.

The Pennsylvania Constitution does say that, in Article VIII, Section 13. 

It reads, "Operating budget appropriations made by the General Assembly shall not exceed the actual and estimated revenues and surplus available in the same fiscal year."

"We believe that it's time that we hold elected officials accountable to the highest law in our commonwealth," said Brouillette.  

He's not alone; state Rep. Jim Christiana (R-15th) is also a plaintiff on the lawsuit, along with Ben Lewis, the CEO of Tradesman Building Group. 

They say their case is strengthened because deficit spending hurts regular people. 

"Folks like Tradesman Building that employ lots of people. Their workers are harmed when government passes bad policies," said Brouillette.  

The lawsuit also names the State Treasurer and Auditor General, claiming they enable illegal spending.

69 News spoke to Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, a democrat, who seemed unfazed after being sued. 

"When you're in elected executive office, it happens from time to time," he said. 

69 News also asked him a simple question: Does the case have merit?

"I think it has merit. I do think the best solution for the lawsuit is for the legislature and the governor to agree to a constitutionally required balanced budget," he responded. 

DePasquale was blunt about the state's financial health, and defended his own record.

"There is a real problem in Pennsylvania right now," he said. "I've been out there hammering away that our state finances need to be improved. I've been fighting for more fiscal responsibility."

Governor Wolf's office would not comment on pending litigation.

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