Wednesday, October 7, 2009
While movement continues on the slow march to a 2009 2010 Pennsylvania state budget there are still some issues being debated in the house. Those issues add up to about $12 million. Yesterday, the PA Senate moved a budget package and shortly afterward, House Democratic staffers were voicing outrage over line items designated for “violence reduction,” “health care clinics,” “higher education assistance” and other causes. Caucus spokesman Brett Marcy called the lines “Walking Around Money,” or “WAMs.”—That’s the phrase for funding that goes to specific legislative pet projects. She says, “The problem is that in a year like 2009-10, where we’re talking about a 3.2 billion dollar budget deficit, when we’re talking about cutting very serious statewide broad programs that help people, this is just not the year to fund these narrow types of programs.” Senate Republicans disagree with that characterization of the line items, and say their budget is, in fact, WAM-free. Also still on the negotiating table is the expansion of gambling in the state. The budget calls for revenues from table games but not everyone has signed off on the needed enabling legislation. Negotiations continued through the afternoon and evening, as House leaders deliberated the best way to make changes to budget bills and send them back to the Senate.