In the midnight hour
June 29, 2010 Leave a comment
Here’s where things stand:
According to Senate Republican spokesman Erik Arneson, the four legislative caucuses have agreed to a budget of a bit more than $28 billion. It includes:
-A natural gas severance tax. Arneson says the budget’s fiscal bill would hold a place for the tax, but the levy’s details would not be worked out until later in the year. This is similar to last year’s budget, which included table games revenue, even though the gaming reform bill wasn’t passed until several months later.
-An increased basic education subsidy. (Not sure how much, but Arneson says it’s more than Senate Republicans are comfortable spending, which leads to an educated guess in the $200 million range. That’s just a guess though.)
-FMAP money assumed in the budget, which avoids an additional $850 million in cuts.
The deal is contingent on Governor Rendell’s approval. A few minutes after midnight, Rendell’s Chief of Staff, Steve Crawford, walked into Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi’s office. The two met for about ten minutes, and then Crawford strode out. Did we have a deal? No answer. Were talks continuing? “The night’s still early,” Crawford said. “It’s not even ten until two yet.”
Crawford walked across the Capitol and into House Appropriations Chair Dwight Evans’ office, where the House Democratic leaders have been holed up all night.
Earlier this evening, Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati said it would be a night of shuttle diplomacy. It appears Steve Crawford is the shuttle.