If you are following any of the proceedings on the Pennsylvania budget – such as #pabudget on Twitter – you will find a lot has changed with nothing really happening.
Today, the Pennsylvania House was expected to pass SB 850, without amendment, to send to Gov. Rendell. Rendell would then line-item veto about 80% of the legislation, in order to buy time. This would pay state workers, but force legislators to work to pass a full budget more to his liking.
But then came reports that the “blue dog” Democrats had reached a compromise with House Republicans, and would offer an amendment sponsored by Rep. Nick Kotik that would be a complete budget. And Sen. Scarnati sent a letter said the Senate would take up SB 850 immediately, and offering somewhat of an endorsement for the Kotik amendment. It seemed like Pennsylvania would finally have a budget deal.
But then came reports that the “blue dogs” were going to pull their amendment (i.e. not offer it). Reason? Perhaps the fact that Gov. Rendell threatened to veto SB 850 if any changes were made – not line item veto it, but veto it entirely.
If you are thinking that it makes no sense to line item veto one version of SB 850 to create a stop-gap version, but not be willing to do so with a version that spends more, you’d be right. What is Rendell thinking? That he needs to make sure state workers don’t get paid? That he can’t let Democrats work with Republicans on a compromised budget?
Clearly Rendell is playing politics, again using state workers as hostages to meet his demands for higher taxes. If there are folks who doubt who is to blame for the budget impasse, they haven’t been paying attention.