Two Rounds Of Talks No Pa Budget

08.03.09 | Terry Diener

(Harrisburg)  --  Two rounds of weekend talks didn't bring the state much closer to passing a budget.  Governor Ed Rendell met with lawmakers on Friday and Sunday in his Harrisburg residence. 

State budget negotiators expressed frustration at their lack of progress after a closed-door, two-hour meeting that ended with the sides as far apart as ever. Any hopes of a breakthrough in the standoff, now entering its second month, were dashed after high-ranking lawmakers drove away in disappointment from th e Governor’s residence.

Governor Rendell says he is willing to pass a skeleton bill that would keep the government in operation, and pay state workers until negotiations are made.  However, that could detriment billions-of-dollars for schools, child care and other services.

The next development in the budget battle is expected to occur on Monday, when Democratic leaders in the state House plan to call up the Republican-penned bare-bones budget, which passed the Senate on a party line vote. Democrats hope to pass that bill on Tuesday without any changes and send it to Rendell.

Once the governor receives the budget, he is expected to use his line item veto authority to pare it down drastically but leave in place the money and authority to pay state workers.  In the meantime, 33,000 state employees went without a paycheck Friday and they won't get paid until lawmakers pass a budget.