Monday, July 27, 2009

Rendell Still Pushing, Republicans Resisting, Tax Hike

With a new budget nearly four weeks late, Governor Rendell says he's looking into various options that could allow the commonwealth to pay its bills on a short-term basis.
Expressing growing frustration over the stalled budget talks, Rendell says his staff is exploring ways that he could invoke a stop-gap spending plan possibly as early as mid-week.

"The employees would get paid, our vendors would get paid, we'd be able to keep open all of the facilities that are in danger of closing, and I think that it is time to do that."

House minority leader Sam Smith of Jefferson County says House Republicans could agree with such a temporary plan provided it's simply designed to keep the government going...

"But a stopgap could be characterized as just one-twelfth, you know, pro-rated per over the last year's spending and we can't agree to that kind of a stop-gap."

That's because Republicans want the new budget to be less than the past fiscal year's spending plan.
Pressure is mounting from state workers, with the largest group of employees to date, some 33-thousand, facing a payless payday this Friday.
Rendell says he agrees with Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi's assessment that little progress is being made -- but he faults Pileggi's caucus, the Senate Republicans, for refusing to budge from their opposition to a tax increase.

"There's a lot of pain out there, and it is time for them to experience some pain, too. It is time for them to get off of artificial spending numbers when we've cut almost $3 billion out of our state spend. It is time for them to look at reasonable revenue increases."

But House Minority Leader Sam Smith insists Republicans will not budge in their opposition to a tax hike...

"A tax increase is a tax increase in this atmosphere...any one of them is going to be detrimental to the people of Pennsylvania and to the economy of Pennsylvania. I would probably suggest that the P-I-T may be the worst of them all."

The governor says his administration offered up another 277-million dollars in cuts over the weekend.

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