Rendell Dances Budget Two-Step Despite The Dangers

PhillyClout is suffering a flash-back this afternoon, based on Gov. Rendell's vow to push for a two-part state budget process on Monday if legislators in the state House and Senate can't work out a deal by then.  Rendell tried a two-part budget in 2003, the first year of his first term.  Republicans, who controlled the House and Senate then, used the budget to to politically embarrass the new governor.  The final state budget, which is supposed to be approved by July 1 every year, didn't become law until December.

The Harrisburg budget battle is playing out now while Philadelphia frets over two measures -- A temporary 1-cent increase in the city's sales tax and changes to how the pension fund is replenished -- which need approval by the General Assembly.  Mayor Nutter was in Harrisburg today, once again pitching the city's needs.

Rendell today said he would ask Democratic leaders in the House Monday to call a vote on a budget bill proposed weeks ago by Republicans in the Senate, if the House and Senate can't reach their own deal by then.  Rendell said he would then use his line-item veto power to get rid of 90 percent of that budget, leaving only "things that are necessary to the operation of the state government, money to run the departments."  That would end the potential for pay-less paydays that have been angering state employees.  Rendell said he hoped that promised action will be the "spark" that gets a budget deal moving before then.

"It’s time for all of us to grow up," said Rendell, who then repeated his claim that Senate Republicans are living on "Fantasy Island" if they think the state can function without some sort of new revenue.  "It’s time for all of us to end partisanship. It’s time for all of us to end ideology. It’s time for all of us to act in the best interest of the Commonwealth."

How did the end to partisanship go six years ago?  Rendell introduced a budget in March but asked the House and Senate to wait three weeks to act on it because he was still coming up with details.  The House approved his budget four days later, the Senate took a whole eight days.  The final budget came just before Christmas.