Budget Stalemate Thins The Guest List At PA Society

Dec 11, 2015

The state budget impasse is giving lawmakers a reason to rescind their RSVPs to the annual out-of-state political bash this weekend known as PA Society.

The days-long string of parties and receptions held every December at Waldorf Astoria, a luxury hotel in Manhattan, takes its name from the Pennsylvania Society dinner held in New York every year since 1899. The constellation of events around the Saturday banquet gives political heavies time to mix and mingle with business executives, lobbyists, campaign masterminds and potential donors.

This year, many lawmakers see their attendance as a liability since the budget is five months overdue.

“I think people are legitimately politically worried about it to be seen up in New York at some gala as opposed to being back here working on a budget,” said Rep. Mike Vereb (R-Montgomery), who said he won’t be there.

Gov. Tom Wolf has also scrubbed his plans to go.

“If there’s no budget, I’m not going to be up in New York,” said Wolf on Wednesday. “This is where I need to be.”

House leaders say they’ll abstain as well, though Republican leaders abruptly canceled the House’s voting session for Friday, the first big day of PA Society jollity.

The Senate Democratic leader isn’t going, but Senate Republican Majority Leader Jake Corman is hosting a PA Society reception Friday afternoon in New York. A spokeswoman said he will be in Harrisburg if there are leadership negotiations.

On Monday, Corman was asked by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Kate Giammarise if he would attend PA Society.

“Depends if we’re in session or not,” Corman said.

“That’s a maybe?” Giammarise asked later, following up.

“Depends on if we’re in session or not,” Corman said.

The Senate adjourned Thursday evening, with plans to return to session on Monday.