Caldwell & Kearns, P.C.
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Governor Wolf, Republicans face impasse over budget shortfall, P.3

We’ve been looking in our last couple posts at the ongoing dispute between Governor Wolf and Republicans over the budget shortfall. Last time, we looked at the respective positions of Governor Wolf and Republican lawmakers, noting the lack of willingness to give up any ground.

Certainly, it is difficult to predict what the course of mediation will look like in this case, or indeed whether mediation will even be productive. If mediation is to be successful, there is no doubt that both sides of the dispute will have to open up their perspectives to come to some sort of common ground. Mediation will presumably aim to open up both the Governor and Republican representatives to moving beyond their rigid objectives and help them to identify the interests that underlie those objectives. 

The techniques by which this happens vary, but one of the initial aims of mediation is to generate options for resolving the dispute on the table. In this case, rather than looking at the differences between Republicans and Governor Wolf as being more money or less money in the budget, mediation could help both sides to look at alternative avenues for satisfying their interests that may be satisfactory to the opposing side.

Exactly how this would look in practice is hard to say. What is clear, though, is that no satisfactory agreement is reached in any mediation unless both parties are able to identify their own motivations, understand the motivations of the other party, and look at potential approaches for resolving the dispute beyond what has been suggested thus far by the parties.

Mediation is not always successful in this task, but meditation is rarely successful without engaging this process in one form or another. Working with a mediator who has experience in this process can help ensure that parties have the best opportunity possible to come up with a satisfactory resolution. 

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