Any hope for an on-time state budget has all but vanished in Harrisburg. Now some lawmakers say they’d consider passing an emergency short term budget if negotiations drag deep into the summer.
With top Democrats calling for an income tax hike and Republicans vowing to shoot down any revenue increase, August 1st is beginning to sound like an optimistic prediction for when lawmakers will reach a spending agreement.
Governor Rendell says he’s committed to working around the clock to strike a deal, but insists new taxes will have to be part of the final arrangement. Rendell says he’d consider a stopgap budget if negotiations run too long, and state workers start missing paychecks.
House Minority Leader Sam Smith says he’s open to a temporary spending plan.
"They’re passing just a short-term budget that kind, just the basics that everybody agrees are critical functions. And that keeps the general services of government running."
Governor Rendell says Republicans who argue he hasn’t made any cuts are wrong.
"You go through any of the lines that we cut, and we’ll blindfold you, and you’ll just point to a line. And when we get to that line I’ll have you call the people who are losing the funds. And you ask them if there’s a cut. And you know what they’ll tell you? You’re darn right there’s been a cut. There’s a lot of pain in that two billion dollars."
A stopgap budget hasn’t been used in Harrisburg for more than 30 years, and Smith says it’s unlikely lawmakers will have to draft one this year.