Budgetmania – Round Two

Legislative leaders didn’t have much to say this afternoon, as they left Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi’s office after a second round of budget negotiations.

House Democratic leaders brushed past reporters, and didn’t offer many details as we chased them down the stairs. “We really haven’t worked all those numbers out at this point,” said Speaker Keith McCall, when asked whether Republicans and Democrats had agreed to a spending number. “That’s still a matter of what we’re trying to reconcile right now.”

What we do know: Top House Republicans and Democrats are meeting this evening, and tomorrow, Governor Rendell will host another round of talks with leaders from all four caucuses.  Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati – by far the most talkative negotiator — said so far, negotiations have been going well. “We don’t have anybody drawing lines in the sand, arbitrary statements that it has to be this way or it’s not going to happen. And I think that’s very encouraging.”

Scarnati said he’s optimistic the budget will avoid tax increases.

Scarnati also warned Senate Republicans will oppose a spending plan that includes 850 million dollars in increased federal medical assistance, if Congress still hasn’t passed the FMAP extension by the time the budget is voted on.

And hey — if it makes you feel any better, Pennsylvania’s not the only place with major budget problems.

About pubradiopolitics
Scott covers state government and politics for Pennsylvania's public radio stations, including WITF in Harrisburg, WHYY in Philadelphia and WDUQ in Pittsburgh.

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