PA Budget Update

houseWell, July 1 has come and gone. For the seventh consecutive year the budget has not been passed by the July 1 deadline. In my view there are several reasons that this has occurred this year. It is a combination of legislature size, opposing party majorities amongst the House and Senate, late start to negotiations, and inability to compromise. Whenever a large group of strongly opinionated people are trying to come to a concensus compromise plays a major role. Someone is going to have to compromise to get things done. Thus far that has not occurred. The Republicans in both the House and the Senate are running on the platform of cuts and no tax increases. They view Governor Rendell as someone who has spent beyond comprehension. In reality, the Governor initially did drastically increase spending. However, he has made cuts to bring down the spending number to nearly equal the spending on last year’s budget. The Democrats are running on the platform of increased spending for, what they view as, essential areas such as education. They are also proposing to increase the personal income tax from 3.07% to 3.57% for a temporary period of 3 years. Many opposing views feel that this “temporary” increase will turn into a permanent increase as they site previous temporary increases such as the Johnstown Flood Tax that has become permanent.

The Senate introduced a budget that contained strictly cuts and no tax increases. It was SB850 which did not survive the House Appropriations Committee. There were several reasons for this, most notably that the cuts were extensive and that the budget was left severely out of balance. The House Democrats have yet to introduce a bill for debate. There have been negotiations over the course of the previous two days among Governor Rendell and the leaders of the four Caucuses. These negotiations involved going line by line through the budget to discuss areas where there are agreement, and areas where there are disagreement. Both parties have said publicly that these talks where positive and while they remain far apart in terms of an agreement, at least the conversations are beginning. Today the House Democrats held caucus to review the budget line by line prior to introducing a budget bill on the House floor for debate.

Much has been made in the media as to how long this years budget debate will take. Governor Rendell said publicly that he felt the budget could potentially be passed within a two week period. Senate Republican leaders see it being much longer than that. In my view, this is primarily because of the refusal to sit down and compromise for the betterment of the commonwealth. Neither side wishes to budge in respect to their positions as they were stated earlier. The state workers are caught in the middle of this whole debacle. Governor Rendell has stated that if the budget is not passed on or before July 17 the state employees will work without pay until the budget is passed. At that time the employees would be paid in full for all days worked. As you can imagine this has created much controversy and conversation. Fingers are being pointed as to who is at fault for the current situation. Now that the budget deadline has passed, it is my opinion that the House and Senate should stay in Harrisburg and put everything except the budget on the back burner. ABC News announced this evening that the House intends on holding session over the Independence Day weekend. The Senate has said that they will not hold session over the holiday weekend. They will resume with session on Monday. It should be their ultimate goal to get this budget passed as soon as humanly possible. I hope that both sides can sit down and work together to get this elusive budget passed before state employees and their families are caught in the middle and negatively impacted because of the failure of our elected officials to put partisan politics aside and work together on a common goal.

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3 Responses

  1. You summed it up well. I hate being a pawn!

  2. Start speeding and breaking laws on July 17th. State Troopers are only being compensated for $1000/pay if they have an account with a participating bank for a budget impasse loan. The Cadets coming out of the State Police Academy make well over that amount, let alone what the 15-20yr members make and they will not be happy. There will be consequences for the failures of our state government. This is in no way a threat but, you just can’t treat people like this. I’m a registered Republican…not to boast but I didn’t vote for Rendell so it’s not my fault. Also, I very strongly believe that all politicians (no such thing as good or bad) are going straight to hell. If they have done something good for humanity they have done 100 things that cripple the American way. Do the world a favor and write yourself in on the next election. Not one American could do any worse than these fools.

    • State Volunteer,

      Thank you for your comments. I also am a state worker that will be negatively impacted as a result of the budget impasse. You should boast that you didn’t vote for Governor Rendell. This is a Governor that has spent far more than we can reasonably pay which is why we are in the mess in the first place. As far as the politicians going straight to hell, that is not up to me to decide so I won’t agree or disagree with that statement. Each and every Pennsylvania resident should be embarrassed by the debacle that has become this year’s budget. If you have read my blog detailing the winners of this year’s budget, it is easy to see that this upcoming election will be an election of change. It is my strong belief that we will see candidates coming out of the woodwork to try to “dethrone” this legislature. This very well could be the election for the Republicans to take back control of things in Harrisburg!

      -Lee

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