Budgetary backbiting continues in the Capitol


The Rendell administration’s full frontal assault on the budget adopted by the GOP-controlled Senate continued today, and Republicans have had about enough of it.

Pennsylvania’s top insurance official warned that the spending plan would devastate the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program.

“If these cuts remain unaltered, we will be faced with decidedly harsh choices,” Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario said at a Capitol news conference. “We will be turning away many, many children in need of health care, or significantly scaling back the CHIP benefit package – or both.”

The Senate earlier this month passed a $27.3-billion budget, one that is greatly scaled back from the $29 billion in spending Rendell had proposed.

Ever since, the administration in a concerted PR campaign has complained about the cuts. They are bad for the health of our children. They are bad for the environment. They are bad for education.

You name it, and it’s just plain bad, according to a chorus of Rendell administration officials who have lined up each day to deride the GOP plan.

It’s getting so contentious that Republicans on the House Education Committee yesterday boycotted a panel meeting because of expectations of continued harping.

Republicans, meantime, have turned to accusing the governor of doing his best Chicken Little imitation.

When top Conservation and Natural Resources department officials released a list of dozens of state parks that would be forced to close, Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati fired back.

“Citizens have, sadly, come to expect some exaggeration from state agencies seeking additional tax dollars,” said Scarnati (R., Jefferson). “But the claims made by DCNR are over the line.”

And today, Ario’s comments were met with a stiff rebuke by Sen. Don White (R., Indiana).

Rendell, White said, “has marched out his cabinet members on an almost daily basis to forecast gloom and doom if the Legislature doesn’t accept his budget.”

White said the Senate budget maintains CHIP funding at its current level, thereby ensuring that a monthly average of 195,000 children receive subsidized health coverage.

Fair warning: The public should expect more of the same backbiting as the legislature and the administration move towards a budget compromise in the coming weeks.


Click here for Philly.com's politics page.