Injunction request to stop Wolf’s borrowing plan withdrawn
An injunction request has been withdrawn that sought to apply the brakes to Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to borrow against future Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board payments to help fund this year’s budget.
The governor’s announcement on Monday that he will back away from that borrowing scheme in favor of one the Legislature approved makes the need for urgent action moot unless he would reverse course, said Matt Brouillette, president and CEO of Harrisburg-based Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs.
Brouillette, along with Dauphin County businessman Ben Lewis and state Rep. Jim Christiana, R-Beaver County, sought the injunction because they thought the governor’s unilateral decision to pursue the PLCB borrowing to raise $1.25 billion to balance the budget without legislative consent was an overreach.
In a broader lawsuit they have pending against Wolf, state Treasurer Joe Torsella and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, Brouillette, Lewis and Christiana question the constitutionality of other borrowing schemes the executive branch officials have approved to keep the general fund solvent, along with the constitutionality of last year and this year’s unbalanced state budgets.
Wolf said on Monday he had signed off on a legislative-approved plan to borrow up to $1.5 billion against future payments from the 1998 multi-state settlement with the nation’s major tobacco companies.
Because the Commonwealth Financing Authority has to approve the tobacco borrowing, Wolf has not taken the PLCB borrowing off the table just yet although the governor said on Monday there was no need to do both.
“Should he decide to pursue it again after the CFA decides on the Tobacco Settlement scheme, we may seek another injunction then,” Brouillette said.
A hearing on the injunction that had been scheduled for Wednesday is cancelled. Wolf spokesman J.J. Abbott said that hearing played no role in the governor’s decision-making regarding the borrowing.
“Governor Wolf’s decision to sign the bill had nothing to do with this lawsuit and we continue to believe this is nothing more than a roundabout attempt to cut funding to schools and other public services,” Abbott said.
With the need for urgency now dissipated, Brouillette said this will “allow our full case to be heard by the court without rushing them to make a judgment” on only one of the constitutional question the lawsuit raises.