That's not happening. Instead, GOP leadership's split: elephants gone wild vs. elephants gone mild, each herd driven by different personalities and politics.
In the House, led by Allegheny County's Mike Turzai, a hard-line conservative, Republicans are largely in lockstep with Gov. Corbett, especially on a bottom-line budget number of $27.3 billion and his pledge to raise no taxes or fees.
In the Senate, led by Delaware County's Dominic Pileggi, a more-moderate conservative, Republicans are ready to push for fees on Marcellus Shale and tap an expected revenue surplus (currently $506 million) to offset some Corbett cuts.
(For clarity, the state's $4 billion deficit relates to what it would cost to maintain the budget at current levels minus $3 billion in lapsing federal stimulus money. The $506 million "surplus" is tax revenue so far this fiscal year, well above a Corbett administration estimate of $78 million.)
Still awake? My point is not to list a bunch of numbers but to note that variant GOP views aren't the norm for a party mostly monolithic on matters of fiscal policy. There's a clear divergence in the woods of this year's budget-making.
For example, the House is sticking with Corbett on no tax or fee on shale.
Yet Senate President Joe Scarnati is to introduce a shale-fee bill today after saying he can't see a budget done "without addressing an impact fee for this industry."
Also, the House is sticking with Corbett on his $27.3 billion number. The Guv restated it last Thursday in a speech to the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. The House last week formally introduced a budget with that number.
Yet Pileggi says surplus revenue makes it "very difficult" to pass a budget without spending more than $27.3 billion.
Meanwhile, GOP priorities such as school vouchers and tort reform are mired in additional interparty differences threatening to stall the Republican agenda.
Why? Apart from personalities/ideologies of leaders, here are other factors:
The politics of the moment dictate that Republicans elected on less government/no-new-taxes deliver. The House is poised to do so, if for no other reason than to maintain its majority next year.
But the Senate is a safer place. Its districts are larger and more diverse, and its members face re-election every four years instead of every two. GOP senators, in many instances, can afford to be less ideologically pure than House counterparts.
Also, Senate GOP leaders were part of the very budgets approved under Gov. Ed Rendell that now are excoriated by House Republicans as the reason the state needs drastic cuts. It's more difficult for the Senate to join that chorus.
How is it settled?
Two main theories: House passes $27.3 billion, Senate adds some surplus, they compromise a bit above Corbett's preferred total; or save the surplus, tap the tobacco-settlement fund (an annual $350 million account that's supposed to go solely for health-related stuff but that pols can't keep their paws off) and restore some cuts without spending more than last year.
There is, of course, another possibility: tusk wars in a tar pit.
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