With minutes to go before the end of the fiscal year, Gov. Corbett signed a budget into law.
It’s the first time in nine years that Pennsylvania has had a legal budget before the sun rises on the corresponding fiscal year – with more than a billion dollars in cuts, no new taxes or tax hikes, and all at a time when the state is running a multi-billion dollar deficit.
There were hugs, handshakes, and much clapping in the Capitol Thursday night, although Republican Speaker of the House Sam Smith says he can understand why the congratulating seems like a bit much. “We don’t expect that the people of Pennsylvania are going to throw parades or be particularly cheering per se,” said Smith. “They’re looking at us, saying, ‘why are you guys thinking this way when you just did your job?'”
Within the last two weeks, Corbett saw several legislative priorities pass: tort reform, a law to expand the definition of deadly self-defense, and an amendment to change how school districts raise property taxes.
That last item was a subject of much House-Senate squabbling, on and off the floor. But when the Governor insisted the bill pass before a budget signing, party leadership moved swiftly to bounce the bills through the necessary floor debates and committee meetings for a near-midnight budget signing.
One of Corbett’s biggest priorities failed to pass before the summer recess: school vouchers legislation. To that, the Governor said, “We’ll be back in September.”