Thursday, July 1, 2010

Spending Plan On Time, First Time in 8 Years

The Pennsylvania General Assembly passed a budget bill and sent it to Governor Ed Rendell’s desk last night, six hours before the deadline.
At six o’clock, the House of Representatives passed the budget with a 117-84 vote.
The 28.05 billion dollar compromise top Republicans and Democrats hammered out earlier this week is headed to the governor on time, a fact that triggered back slapping for House Majority Leader Todd Eachus and other lawmakers.

"This is a solid budget that is balanced and on time. And I have to tell you, there is a lot of pride in getting our work done on time this year. I think it really matters in communities – there were a lot of people who were dislocated last year. And I just think the work we’ve done is solid."

But many lawmakers say they’re worried about the spending plan’s implications.
Berks County Republican Sam Rohrer argues it’s irresponsible to bank on 850 million dollars in federal assistance that may not be approved by Congress.

"Mr. Speaker it is not a legitimate budget, under any set of circumstances, under any set of legitimate budgeting. It is not balanced, we know that. You cannot offer a balanced budget when you have at least 850 million dollars in revenue that depends on a fickle body in Washington."

Many Democrats said they’re angry about deep cuts to the Department of Environmental Protection, and the use of environmental funds to help fill the state’s 1.2 billion dollar revenue gap.

But there’s still more work to do. Lawmakers need to pass a revenue package, as well as the other bills that make up the full spending plan. Although the spending plan was passed on time, it won't be enacted on time.
Governor Rendell says he’ll wait to sign all the measures at once, but commends legislators for reaching across the aisle and avoiding the partisan wrangling that tied up last year’s budget process until October.

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