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November 10, 2016

Pennsylvania Democrats face new hurdle in Harrisburg

Wolf faces veto override threat after GOP gains in state Senate

Pennsylvania Democrats may still be reeling from losing the state to President-elect Donald Trump, but they've got another pressing issue in Harrisburg.

State Sen. Scott Wagner, R-York, boasted of the party's new veto-proof majority in the Senate in a release after the GOP picked up three new seats* in the chamber, allowing them to override Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf if he rejects legislation.

Wagner, head of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, said he was excited to work with the new senators to "Make Pennsylvania Great Again," playing on Trump's signature campaign slogan.

Wagner added that the businessman-turned-GOP nominee was able to win Pennsylvania (the first Republican to do so since 1988) because of "working class men and women."

RELATED: 2016 General Election: Pennsylvania Legislature

"They’re tired and fed up with getting the same old excuses out of our elected officials and bureaucrats in Washington," Wagner said.

"Donald Trump’s victory is a huge win for taxpayers – your message and this Movement were heard loud and clear."

However, Trump's victory, in terms of political clout for Wagner's party, pales in comparison to the three seats they picked up.

  • John DiSanto beat Democratic incumbent Rob Teplitz in the 15th District. Dan Laughlin did the same to Sean Wiley in the 49th District. Wayne Langerholc beat Ed Cernic Jr. in the 35th District after Democrat John Wozniak decided to retire.

The state budget turned into a nightmare during Wolf's first year in office. He initially called for $350 million in new taxes for an increase in education spending, a number much too high for a GOP-controlled legislature.

And after Wolf and Senate Republicans had seemingly reached a compromise, some House Republicans revolted on the deal, lengthening the impasse to nine months before Wolf allowed a GOP budget to become law without his signature.

The process for the 2016-17 budget was less painful — Wolf praised the investments in education and resources to fight the state's opioid crisis, and the revenue package to pay for it received bipartisan support.

With the new GOP power in the Senate, Wolf could have significantly less bargaining power during next year's negotiations for the 2017-18 budget, as John L. Micek of PennLive pointed out.

The sort of good news for Wolf is that despite also increasing their majority in the House by three seats, giving them an advantage of 122-81, the state GOP doesn't have the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto in that chamber.