Budget deal mired in delay and confusion

    Pennsylvania Senate Republicans have put together a new budget proposal, and leaders from both parties say they agree to it. But the legislation’s path to Governor Rendell’s desk is still unclear.

    Pennsylvania Senate Republicans have put together a new budget proposal, and leaders from both parties say they agree to it. But the legislation’s path to Governor Rendell’s desk is still unclear.

    Listen:
    [audio: 091005sdbudget.mp3]

    Listening to the House Democrats’ afternoon press conference, it was easy to get confused.

    Evans: We feel we do have a deal, and we feel we have a deal in this respect-we believe that the substance is there.

    McCall: But we don’t have a deal. Not in that sense.

    That was House Appropriations Chair Dwight Evans and Speaker Keith McCall, talking at different points during the event.

    Here’s what’s going on: A Senate committee has approved a package of bills equating to a $27.834 billion dollar budget plan. It doesn’t include taxes on natural gas drilling, smokeless tobacco, arts performances or small games of chance.

    House Democrats say a conference committee could work out the minor wrinkles within a day, but Senate leaders say they’re through with the joint sessions, which Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi says have been filled “with delay and inefficiency.” Instead, Pileggi says the Senate will pass the bill and send it over.

    House leaders say that could add a month to the impasse.

    Governor Rendell supports the plan, and House Minority Leader Sam Smith says his caucus is open to it, as well. Rendell and legislative leaders will hold a morning meeting to try and sort out the procedural details.

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