Friday, June 3, 2016

With Budget D-Day Approaching, Senate/House Reconvene For June Marathon

Perhaps it’s nothing, but we hope having the Senate and House return to voting session on World War II’s most famous D-Day, June 6, does not portend a second global conflict over the state budget.
In an interview Tuesday with his hometown paper, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) said no one wants to relive the knock-down, dragged out budget fight of the last year and “credits” the problems of Gov. Wolf’s first year with bad staff decisions.
“I think he wanted to get everything done in the first year, and they were all ‘Fight, fight, fight,’” Sen. Corman said.
At the same time, Sen. Corman is bringing to the table the same issues as last year-- the need for budget reform and a restoration of state funding for Penn State University, the largest employer and economic engine in his district and his alma mater.
“I’m willing to enter into discussions to balance the budget, but we have to do something about the legacy issues [like pensions],” Sen. Corman explained.
While he said Gov. Wolf is a “genuine guy,” and he thinks most people would like him if they met him, Sen. Corman added, “I do think we need a different governor.”
He politely demurred when the reporter asked if the right person to be governor was him.
House Action - Maybe
In the House, Republicans are expected to take action on some budget-related items, perhaps pensions, perhaps a for real vote on expansion of gaming online and at airports, perhaps the General Fund budget bill-- House Bill 1999 (Adolph-R- Delaware)-- that is now in the House Appropriations Committee.
We say perhaps, because leading into the week before the Memorial Day break, there was talk of lots of big votes that didn’t pan out.  And the one that did, an amendment to House Bill 1925 (Santora-R-Delaware) to expand into Internet gaming and slots to airports and off-track parlors, was decisively defeated by a vote of 66 to 122.
That defeat was later called a “test vote” by House Majority Leader David Reed (R-Indiana).
May State Revenues
Pennsylvania collected $1.9 billion in General Fund revenue in May, which was $25.4 million, or 1.3 percent, less than anticipated, Secretary of Revenue Eileen McNulty reported Wednesday.
Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $27.8 billion, which is $97 million, or 0.3 percent, above estimate.
What’s Next
The Senate and House are scheduled to be in voting session 17 days in June or until the budget is done (whichever is longer).
While everyone is saying they don’t want a repeat of last year and there’s lots of happy talk, all the same players with all the same issues are guiding this process, negotiating and/or are willing to blow it up.
Let’s hope for the best and hope D-Day* doesn’t mean “Doomsday.”
*Historical Note: The “D” in D-Day doesn’t mean anything in U.S. military parlance.  It’s merely an alliterative placeholder to avoid using the specific name of a military operation.  The British use Z-Day and the French use J-Jour.  We’d use B-Day for budget day, but that’s already taken.

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