Pennsylvania’s 101-day budget impasse is over. Just before nine o’clock on Friday night, Governor Rendell signed a package of bills into law, ending the country’s last budget standoff.
The state is now authorized to make its payments, and Rendell says the Treasury Department will begin sending checks to nonprofit agencies, county governments and other groups on Tuesday.
"This budget, after months and months of wrangling—this budget, after difficulties and unconscionable delays—this budget produces a good result for the people of Pennsylvania."
The final budget spends 27.8 billion dollars. The top Republican, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, says the budget met his benchmarks of reduced spending and no broad-based taxes, as well.
"We feel we’ve met our goals. It’s inexcusable, frankly, and unacceptable that we’re now over 100 days late, but the substance of the bill does fulfill our goals, if the timing does not."
It fills a 3.2 billion dollar deficit by increasing cigarette taxes by 25 cents a pack, placing a first time levy on little cigars, tapping the state’s Rainy Day Fund and leasing out state forest land for natural gas drilling, among other measures.
The framework also calls for the legalization of table games at Pennsylvania casinos, but lawmakers say that legislation won’t be finalized until next week.