The state House, after a long debate, just voted 195-3 to pass Senate Bill 850, a Republican-sponsored budget that holds the line on spending and includes no new taxes. Gov. Rendell last week asked for that action, saying he plans to line-item veto 90 percent of the legislation, leaving intact only the parts that keep state offices open and paychecks coming to state employees. Rendell calls this a "bridge" budget to keep the state working while a full state budget is negotiated. Senate Republicans call it a "stop-gap" budget that will just delay the process.
Whatever you call it, it looks like bad news for Philadelphia. Mayor Nutter is out in Harrisburg right now lobbying for a pair of city budget issues -- a 1 cent increase in the sales tax, changes to the pension plan. The city originally hoped legislation for those measures would be included in a final state budget package. That package still looks far away. And the Senate Republicans show no interest in moving the city's issues before the state budget.
Right after that, the House gave a first reading to House Bill 1828, which gives the city the power to increase the sales tax and change the pension plan. The legislation was passed without comment, which means it can be called up for final consideration as soon as tomorrow.* Still, a version in the Senate -- SB1058 -- appears headed nowhere fast.
* Correction: An earlier post said this legislation needed to be considered two more times for approval. It only needs a third and final consideration for approval.