No definite budget proposal yet from Pa. lawmakers

    With the Pennsylvania budget deadline looming, lawmakers are grappling with spending limits called for by the governor, as well as legislation he wants passed by July.

    Walking out of recent budget talks, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi said the House and Senate still don’t have a joint proposal to offer the governor.

    “Made a little bit of progress, but we have a lot more to do,” said Pileggi, R-Delaware.

    Among the other legislative demands in the mix is the governor’s intention to sign a bill to overhaul the way charter schools are funded and approved.

    It would remove school districts from the process and put a state board directly in charge.

    The same day Pileggi was leaving his budget meeting, hundreds of school district employees descended on the Capitol to protest school funding cuts.

    There was little love in the house for charter schools, as evidenced by Tom Brogan, an eighth-grade math teacher in Monroe County.

    To a chorus of boos, Brogan protested that “$9.2 million dollars is sent from our school district to both charter and cyber schools for next year.”

    The booing may yet reach the ears of lawmakers in the House, where the governor’s desired charter reforms could face an uphill battle.

    Charter reforms passed by the Senate last fall have stalled in the other chamber.

    Meanwhile, Republicans say they are now working with a better idea of the difference between what Gov. Tom Corbett is willing to spend and what the Legislature has proposed.

    House Speaker Sam Smith says the big task now is trying to figure out if they can hit that number.

    “You know, we’re just backing up a step and reassessing what we can do, what the governor needs to do, or what he needs to complete a budget,” said Smith, R-Jefferson.

    Corbett has said he’d like to build a $500 million cushion into next year’s budget.

    Lawmakers’ current spending plan has about half that.

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