1 Step Forward, 2 Steps Back

This masquerade that has been called budget negotiations is beginning to get ridiculous. As we enter August, PA still is without a budget and seems to be destined to stay that way for quite a while. Today leaders of both the House and the Senate met with Governor Rendell at the Governor’s Mansion. It seems that negotiations did not go well at all. In fact, Senator Pileggi said that it appears things may have taken a step back. As the House is preparing to send SB850 to the Governor this week so that state workers may once again start receiving paychecks, the Senate Republicans are focusing their attention on a spend number as opposed to starting discussions around services. Some fear that once state workers begin receiving their paychecks, the pressure will be off the legislature to move along swifly with passing a budget. That may be a valid argument.

Last week during his press conference, Governor Rendell stated that there would be approximately 300 layoffs once state workers began receiving their pay. It remains to be seen whether that number is truly accurate or what the future holds for the 77,000 state workers that have been the real victims in all of this. To layoff anyone in this economy doesn’t seem to make much sense. Senator Corman recently said that the state is not in the business of being an employment agency. That just gives you a glimpse into the mindset of the legislators that are supposedly working on drafting a budget. It tells you where their priorities lie.

Thus far the House Democrats have shown a true lack of a plan to get the state out of this crisis. The Democrats in the House along with Governor Rendell should be given credit for their willingness to work with their proposal and willingness to compromise. The Senate Republicans have proven to be obstructionist in their unwillingness to compromise on any of their values in terms of balancing the budget. This week should be an interesting one in terms of how this all plays out.

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