Election calendar spurs greater urgency for Pa. budget deal

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    The details of a Pennsylvania budget deal remain a mystery, but some top lawmakers think they may be voting on a package by next week.

     

    House and Senate leaders say they’ll remain in Harrisburg until they finish a spending plan, now more than five months late.

    Why the sudden sense of urgency?

    Next year’s election calendar is looming large in the minds of state lawmakers running to keep their seats. They’ll need to go to their constituents for hundreds of signatures to get their name on the April ballot.

    “It’s going to be tough,” said Rep. Stan Saylor, R-York. “Jan. 26, petitions start circulating, and it doesn’t matter what party you’re in.”

    Collecting petition signatures is a hassle in the best of times, but Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware, said it will be harder if the budget isn’t in place.

    “I don’t think anyone wants to be circulating nominating petitions in January for re-election not having completed a very basic task like the budget,” he said.

    But others say rank-and-file lawmakers are feeling more impatient because, after five months of stalemate, they finally see a potential deal within reach.

    “They didn’t see anything that was worth getting there,” said Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton, the House Democratic whip. “Now we’ve gotten close enough that it is time to work out the last of the details.”

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