Bipartisanship is key to finishing up Pennsylvania’s finances for the fiscal year, a new Commonwealth Foundation poll showed, as the state’s budget impasse hits almost three months.
The government – split with Democrats controlling the governor’s office and state House and Republicans controlling the state Senate – still needs to finalize what’s called fiscal code bills, supplemental spending for programs ranging from school and university funding to making homes more energy or water efficient.
Commonwealth Foundation found that 92 percent of the 800 voters surveyed want Gov. Josh Shapiro to work with House and Senate leaders on a resolution. That includes 94 percent of Democrats, 91 percent of Republicans, and 89 percent of independents.
Just four percent said the budget issue wasn’t important.
“As Gov. Shapiro approaches the end of his first year in office, Pennsylvanians are looking for him to lead on ending the impasse in Harrisburg over the budget and to work with the legislature on bipartisan solutions to our state’s problems,” said Jennifer Stefano, executive vice president of Commonwealth Foundation.
The poll put the current blame for the budget stalemate at 24 percent for both legislative chambers. Shapiro got 17 percent of the blame.
And who is ultimately responsible for getting the budget done? Registered voters said Shapiro at 44 percent, according to the poll.
“Pennsylvanians believe that is a role that the governor should play and must play,” said Stefano.
The original $45.5 billion budget bill was signed by Shapiro last month after he agreed to cut a $100 million school voucher program at the behest of fellow House Democrats. A voucher program the governor said days later he still supported.
Shapiro’s support of vouchers remained key for those polled, with 62 percent wanting him to follow through on the previous agreement with the Senate. That included 60 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of Republicans, and 69 percent of independents.
The highest rate of support for the voucher deal came from urban residents (71 percent) and those ages 18 and 29 (78 percent).
Stefano sees the school voucher support as a huge deal. “Most importantly, a strong majority of Pennsylvanians – especially Democrats and Independents – are calling on Shapiro to honor the deal he made with Senate Republicans by including Lifeline/PASS Scholarships in the pending fiscal code bills required to finalize the state budget.”
The state Senate has already passed multiple education bills since gaveling back in session this month. Now, Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-Indiana) wrote in DVJournal that the House should act. “It is time we demonstrate what can be done in divided government instead of what cannot.”
The poll also found Shapiro is one of the most popular governors in the U.S., with 61 percent total approval and 29 percent disapproval. However, 57 percent of Pennsylvanians felt he either had not delivered a major accomplishment or weren’t sure.
“So, while they’re giving him a honeymoon period, they’re not able to articulate something that he’s done that has impacted or approved their lives,” said Stefano. “That’s going to be something we watch how that plays out.”
To see the entire poll, click here.