Negotiations underway on the Pennsylvania budget impasse

Posted: July 06, 2007

HARRISBURG -- The Rendell administration and legislative leaders resumed budget talks this morning as the state entered its sixth day without a spending plan in place.

Senate and House leaders from both parties met with top aides to Gov. Rendell for 90 minutes in the offices of House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese (D., Greene). The meeting broke off at 11 a.m. without any solid breakthroughs, said Erik Arnesen, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware). But he said that negotiations likely would continue throughout the day.

"While the mere fact that all the parties are finally at the table is a good sign, there is little new to report," said Chuck Ardo, a Rendell spokesman.

At the heart of the impasse is Rendell's insistence that the General Assembly pass several of his initiatives, including a statewide smoking ban and increased highway and mass transit funding, before he would sign a budget package.

Senate Republicans, who control the chamber 29-21, have taken tentative steps toward some of the governor's proposals, but remain opposed to Rendell's call for surcharges on electric bills as part of his energy independence strategy.

Earlier this week, the Rendell administration sent furlough notices to about 25,000 state employees, telling them not to come to work Monday morning unless the budget impasse is resolved. That would force the closure of many services and facilities, from state parks, driver's license centers and casinos.

About 52,000 employees deemed essential to public safety and health, from state police to welfare caseworkers, would remain on the job.


Contact staff writer Mario F. Cattabiani at 717-787-5990 or mcattabiani@phillynews.com.

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