Thursday, July 30, 2009

Budget Conference Panel Off to Slow Start

A legislative conference committee holds its second meeting today as it works toward a new budget for Pennsylvania. The 6-member panel met yesterday for the first time, but made no measurable progress...failing to agree on a total spending figure, on whether the panel should have a chairman, and even on which budget bill to use as a starting point.
Yet another friction point emerged when House Appropriations Committee Chairman Dwight Evans said the conference committee's work should focus on spending and not revenue.

"What I sense as the mission of this conference committee is to try to reconcile the investment priorities we sent over to the Senate, which the Senate didn't agree with, and the Senate amended it, and then we non-concur, you insist on your amendments. And nowhere was there anything discussed about taxes."

Republicans including Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman countered that revenue projections are needed in order to set a spending amount.

"It would be sort of silly to's $35 billion worth of investments, we love them all, these are all great, they do wonderful things. Well jeez, we only have $27 billion to pay for it. Now what are we gonna do?"

As the committee met, Governor Rendell told reporters he may ask the state House as soon as Monday to send him the budget passed by the Republican-controlled Senate.
He says he'd ratify the portions related to core government functions, then line item veto the rest of it.

"The reason that I am lining out every line other than those that are essential to government operations is simply because I don't want anybody to think that this is a potential final budget. It isn't."

But it would, he says, allow state workers to start getting paid again starting a week from tomorrow.

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