Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and legislative leaders say they’re in the home stretch of the budget process, and are vowing to stay in Harrisburg until a spending plan is signed into law.
The House and Senate resume voting sessions Wednesday. Leaders from both parties say lawmakers will keep working until there’s a budget, and the governor is challenging them to finish up by Sunday.
In the meantime, Rendell says the Department of Revenue is processing invoices so it can begin rolling out payments to priority line items like child care reimbursements, basic and special education funding and children’s health insurance as quickly as possible.
"We’re hopeful that they will receive payments within four to six business days after a budget is signed. All other payments should be received within ten business days of the budget enactment. And that includes operational payments for utilities, leases, information and technology services."
Both House Democratic and Senate Republican leaders say they’re hoping to meet Rendell’s Sunday deadline, but Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi says t “six to twelve” separate bills need to pass before the budget process is complete.
"Certainly certain parts of it can be finished by Sunday. I think that it is possible that all of the various bills—the tax code, the fiscal code, the general appropriations bill—could be done by Sunday, but that is probably best-case scenario."
He says right now, the most contentious issue is legalized table games, and that debates are continuing over what the tax rate and licensing fees will be.
There’s also discussion over whether “category 3” venues—those are large, established resorts—would be able to have table games, or increase the 500 slot machine limit that’s currently in place.