The Democratic Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee does not believe the process to approve a budget in 2010 will be as prolonged as this past year. It took Governor Ed Rendell and the legislature until October 9 to approve the 2009-10 budget, more than 100 days late.
But Senator Jay Costa of Allegheny County doesn't believe there will be the same drawn out wrangling in this coming year. Costa told DUQ News that 3rd and 4th quarter numbers should allow the state to hit the mark on expected revenues..."because of that we will be in position not to worry about raising taxes." He says they are already taking into account the projected $1.2 billion in additional expenditures that the state must do in the next budget year.
Costa says he believes the major debate involving the governor and the 4 legislative caucuses will be about where to focus expenditures rather than revenues. Costa believes Governor Rendell still can play a big role in the budget negotiations "simply because he controls the pen that could veto or not veto a budget. As long has he has that authority, even in his lame duck year, he still has a lot of input into what our budget looks like."
The governor will deliver his budget plan in early February and Costa expects expenditures to focus on 3 areas of investment: education, the environment, and economic develop/job creation proposals.
Costa says all caucuses should come together and work expeditiously to provide a budget to the people of Pennsylvania by June 30th "because that's what we're supposed to do, should do."
He expects the legislature to get the work done quickly but do it right and that "we would be letting the people of Pennsylvania down" if it took anywhere near as long as it did this year.