June 30th, 2009
The Associated Press reports that as of tomorrow the state government will begin a seventh straight year without a budget in place, a trend that has been in effect since Gov. Rendell took office.
When the new budget year begins Wednesday, the state will have a curtailed authority to spend money, and both chambers of the Legislature will be in session, rather than on the two-month break from Harrisburg that had been traditional before Rendell took office.
This year’s stalemate, however, may be the most entrenched of Rendell’s six-plus years in office, as the recession-wracked economy caused a $3 billion budget deficit. The governor met with senior lawmakers to review the budget at his residence late Monday, hoping for a breakthrough in budget talks, but no agreement was reached.
Democratic leaders in the General Assembly back Rendell, but they and the leaders of the GOP-controlled Senate are billions of dollars apart on their budget proposals and are squaring off over Rendell’s request for a three-year income tax increase of 16.3 percent. The increase would mean a Pennsylvania resident making $40,000 a year would pay an extra $200 in income taxes.
“It has to go off the table,” Senate President Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, said Monday. “That’s an onerous, large tax. … Members of the governor’s own party are publicly and privately telling us that they’re not voting for a tax increase.”
Rendell has traveled the state warning about the local property tax increases and state service cuts that he says will result if the state cuts spending on crucial programs, including school subsidies and services for the sick and disabled.