Budget Progress (?) Since Thursday

With so much action (and inaction) around the PA Budget situation, we wanted to take a few minutes to create a timeline for you of the past few days. (Don't worry if you are still confused at the end - that seems to be the general feeling right now. And if I missed something, please feel free to add it in the comments!)

Thursday, September 10: Potential deal emerges involving three caucuses (Senate Republicans and Democrats, House Democrats, supposedly brought together after private meetings including Sen. Bob Mellow and Sen. Domenic Pileggi). Budget assumed to be at $27.9 billion and includes revenue from increase to cigarette tax, legalization of table games, and rollback of capital stock and franchise tax. Governor Rendell states that revenue picture is “too rosy” and threatens to veto. House Republicans also have problems with the plan due to the revenue increases and spending level.

Friday, September 11: House and Senate leaders hold press conference to say they have “an agreement in principal” on the budget. In addition to the cigarette tax, table games, and rollback, they reveal additional revenues will come from the Rainy Day Fund and Health Care Provider Retention Account. Governor Rendell again threatens to veto the bill, saying that the budget is “a billion dollars short.”

Meanwhile, the House approved an amended version of HB 1828, which would allow Philadelphia to increase its sales tax by 1%. The amended version went on to the Senate for approval.

Saturday, September 12: Governor Rendell holds a press conference on the budget, where he says he will work towards improvements in the budget deal. However, he continued to attack the revenue projections associated with the deal.

Sunday, September 13: Governor Rendell holds a meeting at the Governor’s Mansion with state leaders. Following the meeting, Sen. Domenic Pileggi indicates that the budget might address some of the Governor’s concerns. House Speaker Keith McCall said he was “optimistic” about the meeting.

Monday, September 14: Governor Rendell continues to speak against the proposed budget in a news conference, leading reporters to note that it had become more likely that if the budget passed, it would be over his veto. However, the Governor also said he would not oppose any plans to override his veto on the budget. A planned Budget Conference Committee meeting was postponed until later on September 14 and then postponed indefinitely.

Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center released a comparison about some of the items in the three-caucus proposal. Also, Senate Republicans caucused to discuss HB 1828.

Tuesday, September 15: Senator Pileggi notes he is “more optimistic” about the budget in comparison to September 14. The Associated Press reported that “most legislators” had not been briefed on the deal. Leaders may convene later today to discuss the budget further.


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