Tentative deal on fiscal office.

According to House Democratic spokesman Brett Marcy, legislative leaders have agreed to move forward with fiscal code votes. Language creating a Legislative Fiscal Office will NOT be included in the revenue bill, but there will be a commitment to vote on the issue by October 1. (The same deadline for a severance tax vote.) Senate Republican spokesman Erik Arneson confirms the agreement.

And I just realized the abbreviation for the Legislative Fiscal Office is the LFO. So, since it’s Friday, enjoy LFO’s “Summer Girls,” which is possibly the worst song ever written.


Here comes your 19th budget breakdown

Remember all that feel-good talk about how nice it was to have a bipartisan, on-time state budget?

Yeah, nix that.

Negotiations over the fiscal code have broken down. The main sticking point? Senate Republicans’ insistence on the creation of a legislative fiscal office, which would operate like Washington’s Congressional Budget Office. House Democrats say this was never part of budget negotiations, but Senate Republican spokesman Erik Arneson tells Capitolwire’s Laura Olson, ““We passed the bill in July of last year, and there were hearings this spring. We’re really unsure of how this came as a surprise to anyone.” According to her report, House Democrats say the Senate Rs are threatening to but the breaks on a natural gas tax, if the fiscal office isn’t addressed.

The AP’s Marc Scolforo has additional details on the breakdown. It’s important to remember lawmakers have a bit more than a week to work this out. Otherwise, Governor Rendell says he’d be legally bound to veto the budget bill that reached his desk Wednesday night. Rendell says he can’t sign a spending bill into law without an accompanying revenue package.

The House Appropriations Committee meets in about twenty minutes, so stay tuned for more on this continuing drama.

UPDATE: the meeting has been delayed until the call of the Chair.

House passes spending bill

And they did it! The House approved a spending bill for the 2010-11 fiscal year, six hours before the July 1 deadline. The vote came shortly after a motion to suspend the chamber’s 24 hour waiting period.

The final tally was 117-84. The measure will head to Governor Rendell’s desk, after Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati and House Speaker Keith McCall sign it.

It’s unclear whether Governor Rendell will sign the bill into law tonight.

Senate passes 2010-11 spending bill

The Senate has passed a spending bill for the fiscal year that begins tomorrow, setting the stage for a House vote that could come hours before tonight’s midnight budget deadline.

The upper chamber approved the 28.05 billion dollar spending plan on a 37-13 vote.

Among the lawmakers voting no was Democratic Senator Daylin Leach of Montgomery County, who says he’s frustrated the budget doesn’t include more targeted taxes.

Even though a natural gas tax is part of the budget agreement, this year’s plan won’t factor in any revenue from the levy, and lawmakers won’t vote on the proposal until the fall.

Nearly every department would see its funding trimmed in this budget. The Department of Environmental Protection loses 13 million dollars, and the Department of Public Welfare’s budget shrinks by more than 60 million dollars.

The House is expected to vote on the plan tonight. Its Rules and Appropriations Committees are meeting right now, and the full chamber reconvenes at 2:00.

Here’s the roll call of this afternoon’s Senate vote:

Updated budget numbers

Here’s the most recent look at the budget’s line item specifics. The spending bill has cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee, and will  be taken up by the full Senate shortly. Meantime, House Democrats are caucusing to determine whether or not they have the votes to pass it.

A southeastern Democrat gave me the “it’s iffy” hand gesture in the hallway a few minutes ago. That’s all the information I have so far on how the caucus is going.

Budget line items

For your viewing pleasure, the line item specifics of this year’s budget are posted below.

The Senate Appropriations Committee meeting has been postponed until tomorrow, setting the stage for what’s likely to be a frantic day. Both chambers will need to suspend their rules in order to pass a budget by the midnight deadline.

More budget details emerge

Just filed this report for PA’s NPR affiliates. More details to come tonight, once the actual appropriations bill emerges before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Governor Rendell and legislative leaders have hammered out a budget agreement, one day before the June 30th deadline. The 28.05 billion dollar spending plan includes a 250 million dollar increase in basic education spending, but Rendell says most departments will experience cuts.

Rendell says the deal also includes a natural gas tax.

More details will emerge tonight, when the Senate Appropriations Committee votes on the spending bill.

That will set the stage for a full Senate vote tomorrow morning. If the measure passes the upper chamber it goes to the House, where members would need to suspend their rules in order to vote on the bill by midnight Wednesday.

Lawmakers still need to vote on a fiscal code, which sets Pennsylvania’s tax rates. A handful of other budget-related bills have yet to be approved, as well.