Wolf Vetoes Funding to Ensure Fair Elections

Member Group : Center Square

(The Center Square) – Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf shrank the size of the state’s nearly $41 billion spending plan narrowly Wednesday with a $3.1 million line-item veto.

The cut came out of the $5.6 million budget line for the auditor general’s office. Tim DeFoor, the state’s new auditor general who assumed office in January, asked for a funding boost to hire more staff and improve the office’s technology infrastructure.

Republican leaders said they gave the money to DeFoor to create a Bureau of Election Audits within his office. There’s no corresponding budget language that mandates this use for the funds, but Wolf said he couldn’t take the chance.

He noted that the Department of State already conducts election audits, though he’s open to establishing a different process in the future.

House Speaker Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, had fewer kind words to share. He said the move – as well as Wolf’s decision to veto an election reform bill on his desk – “sows distrust.”

“The inclusion of $3.1 million in the state budget for an independent Bureau of Election Audits … would have promoted integrity and confidence in election results and processes, and helped identify weaknesses so that additional reforms could be enacted,” he said.

“Trust is a fragile and delicate thing,” Cutler said. “It is very easy to break and lose and one of the hardest things to earn back.”

Staff Reporter

Christen Smith follows Pennsylvania’s General Assembly for The Center Square. She is an award-winning reporter with more than a decade of experience covering state and national policy issues for niche publications and local newsrooms alike.