Rendell and Pa. legislators start budget “plan b”

    Pennsylvania’s budget depends on $850 million in medical aid from Washington that doesn’t seem likely.

    Governor Rendell says he’ll spend the next week cutting $850 million out of Pennsylvania’s budget.

    Rendell will sit down with top lawmakers on Monday, to begin the process of slashing hundreds of millions of dollars from the spending plan he signed into law earlier this month. He says he’ll announce layoffs in two weeks.

    The budget banked on $850 million in federal medical aid called FMAP that still hasn’t arrived, and Rendell says he can’t wait any longer.

    During an interview in his Capitol office with WHYY’s Scott Detrow, Rendell conceded he’ll likely trim most of the $250 million basic education spending increase he fought so hard for.

    Detrow: Before the budget passed you said if there’s no FMAP money, your basic education increase is gone. Is that still the case?
    Rendell: A good percentage of it will be gone, yes.
    Detrow: But you’re hoping to keep some of it, still?
    Rendell: Some of it. At least enough to cover the districts for inflation.

    Rendell defends his decision to include the federal money in the budget, pointing out leaders in both Congressional chambers support the federal medical assistance extension, as does the president.

    He blames the Senate impasse on the fact Republicans have made the ballooning federal deficit into a top campaign issue.

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