Clock is ticking: Pa. legislators have one week to finish budget

    Governor Ed Rendell plans to meet with legislative leaders this afternoon to try to reach consensus and avoid repeating last year’s prolonged budget stalemate.

    State lawmakers in Pennsylvania have just a week left to agree on a spending plan for the new fiscal year that begins July 1st.

    Governor Ed Rendell plans to meet with legislative leaders this afternoon to try to reach consensus and avoid repeating last year’s prolonged budget stalemate.

    The June 30th budget deadline is a bit more than a week away, and leaders from both parties insist that unlike last year, they’re doing everything they can to pass a spending plan beforehand.

    Senate and House leaders met twice yesterday, and they’ll gather at Governor Rendell’s residence this afternoon.

    Joe Scarnati, the top Republican in the Senate, says talks have been productive.

    “We don’t have anybody drawing lines in the sand,” says Scarnati, “arbitrary statements that it has to be this way or it’s not going to happen. And I think that’s very encouraging.”

    Scarnati says Republicans are opposing any tax hike, and says he’s “encouraged” the House has not been able to pass a revenue plan featuring increased tobacco taxes and a natural gas levy.

    He warns Senate Republicans will oppose a spending plan that includes $850 million in increased federal medical assistance, if Congress still hasn’t passed the FMAP extension by the time the budget is voted on.

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