Lawmakers Square Off On Budget Battle In Harrisburg

05.05.09 | Terry Diener

Republicans and Democrats began drawing battle lines Monday for the looming showdown over Pennsylvania's state budget. The Senate Appropriations Committee voted along a straight party line to send to the Senate floor a $27.3 billion budget plan that would hold overall spending to slightly less than this year's level while avoiding tax increases.

Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati says its been a difficult process, and he expects Republicans will receive criticism for their proposal. However, he said the alternative would have been to raise taxes. Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi says the proposed budget is based on anticipated revenues.

Governor Ed Rendell and leaders of the House Democratic majority responded by staging their own news conference to criticize the GOP plan. Rendell calls the proposal short-sided when it comes to public education and economic development.

Democrats acknowledged that the $29 billion budget blueprint Rendell has proposed will have to be scaled back in the face of sagging tax collections that have nudged the amount of this year's projected shortfall to $3 billion. However, they insisted the cuts need not be nearly as deep as the GOP has proposed.