With midnight Monday fast approaching, it appears the three branches might be close to a deal.
After the House passed their plan on Friday, the Senate is finalizing their own bill and the two could be reconciled on Sunday night or Monday. The process may be finished in time for the Governor to sign a budget by the close of business on Monday.
At the outset, Governor Corbett indicated that he wouldn’t accept any new taxes until pension reform and liquor privatization were dealt with. A problem emerged, though, as it appeared neither of those initiatives had enough support and the commonwealth had a significant revenue shortfall that needed to be filled.
The GOP and Democrats initially tried to fill the gap with taxes on cigarettes and maybe even on natural gas drillers but the Republicans abandoned that track and are seeking to cobble together one-time cash items to get the numbers to balance.
Marc Levy of the Associated Press went as so far as to call this action “the big gimmick.”
Meanwhile, Gov. Corbett and his campaign are alleging that Tom Wolf and Katie McGinty are pushing Democrats to oppose the budget.
“It appears that millionaire Secretary Tom Wolf’s hypocrisy has no end,” said Corbett-Cawley Communications Director Chris Pack. “Secretary Tom Wolf has repeatedly claimed that he’s not a politician, but he’s engaging in the most cynical of political actions – lobbying the General Assembly to blindly oppose Governor Corbett solely for political purposes.”
This political line of attack might not work, however, as Republicans control the Governor’s Mansion, the House and the Senate, so they are likely to receive all the credit or blame.
Nevertheless, it appears we just may have an on-time budget this week.