Gov. Tom Wolf’s Chief of Staff Mary Isenhour looks set to lead the administration’s side during budget negotiations this time around, after meetings during last year’s nine-month standoff were bogged down by too many people, Chris Comisac of Capitolwire reports.
Though others will still be included in budget meetings, everything will have to be approved by Wolf and Isenhour, making it clear to GOP legislative leaders who they will be negotiating with.
Last September, after two months of fruitless negotiations over the 2015-16 budget, the Governor and GOP leaders changed tactics and started holding meetings without much of their support staffs.
Though smaller meetings didn’t immediately bring about results – a final budget finally passed in March – those close to the negotiations look at the move as a productive first step, according to the report.
“Watching closely the process the last time around, I think, and even talking to the caucus leaders and their staff, there was a general frustration in that you never knew who was going to be in the room and who was going to be speaking for the Governor,” a lobbyist source told Capitolwire. “Back in the day, we knew if John Estey was there, that was it, he was the voice for Rendell. Same thing under the Ridge administration, there was only one voice.”
There are signs that this summer will not be dominated by gridlock, with lawmakers looking at the legalization of medical marijuana as a sign that compromise and effective government are still possible in the State Capitol.
On Tuesday, the slowly regenerating bipartisanship was further encouraged when House Republicans delayed consideration of a resolution from the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee to stop Wolf’s new oil and gas regulations, according to the report.