Legislators dispute special funds in budget

    A top House Democratic aide says Pennsylvania budget negotiations are “99.5%” complete. Among the issues still being debated is 12 million dollars worth of line items in the budget passed by the Senate yesterday.

    A top House Democratic aide says Pennsylvania budget negotiations are “99.5%” complete. Among the issues still being debated is 12 million dollars worth of line items in the budget passed by the Senate yesterday.

    Listen:
    [audio: 091006sdbudget.mp3]

    The Senate moved a budget package in the morning. Shortly afterward, House Democratic staffers were voicing outrage over line items designated for “violence reduction,” “health care clinics,” “higher education assistance” and other causes.

    Caucus spokesman Brett Marcy says they’re “Walking Around Money,” or “WAMs.” That’s the phrase for funding that goes to specific legislative pet projects.

    Marcy: The problem is that in a year like 2009-10, where we’re talking about a $3.2 billion dollar budget deficit, when we’re talking about cutting very serious statewide broad programs that help people, this is just not the year to fund these narrow types of programs.

    Senate Republicans disagree with that characterization of the line items, and say their budget is, in fact, WAM-free.

    Negotiations continued through the afternoon and evening, as House leaders deliberated the best way to make changes to budget bills and send them back to the Senate.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.