Mutiny over Medicaid

There comes a moment in every budget cycle in Pennsylvania when it seems like talks are unraveling and the state is on the verge of political implosion.

Friday morning's happenings could qualify for that moment. Earlier today, a letter surfaced written and signed by 33 House Republicans with this simple message: they will vote against the proposed $28-plus billion budget, due by midnight Sunday, if any aspect of it contains language to expand Medicaid coverage in Pennsylvania. .

The letter hit just as the Senate was poised to move an amendment to a budget-related bill calling for Medicaid expansion (along with some caveats).

The significance: if 33 Republicans become "no" votes for the budget, that means Republicans who control the chamber are left having to turn to their Democratic colleagues for help. And those Democratic colleagues have spent months criticizing the proposed budget, which they contend does not provide enough money for public schools or prioritize job creation measures.

The other option for the GOP-controlled House is to vote it down - although several legislators in their ranks consider that a politically-risky move.

It's a last-minute wrench thrown into what already are complicated negotiations between Gov. Corbett and the GOP-controlled legislature on the budget and other initiatives, including liquor privatization and transportation funding.

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