Rendell criticizes Dems, says budget deal still alive

Just hours after the House Democrats pushed through a radically-altered budget deal, Gov. Rendell criticized the caucus for approving legislation that "does not reflect the budget deal" made two weeks ago and doubted its prospects for passage in the Senate.

"The future is no doubt in serious question in the Senate," said Rendell at a brief morning news conference. "And that means a step back." 

Rendell said while the Democrats' proposals to raise $1.2 billion by tax natural gas extraction and tobacco products were similar to his own, that he was "willing to live up to" the original budget deal struck two weeks ago.

"I understand what members have done and the point they have made," he said in a three minute statement. "But it's not about making points, it's about compromise and shared pain."

Rendell, who took no questions from reporters, denied that the parties were "back to square one" and promised to meet with Senate Republican and House Democratic leaders tomorrow to try to work out a compromise.

In a 103-99 near party line vote, the House late last night approved an alternative revenue plan that would slap new taxes on natural-gas drillers, smokeless tobacco, and cigars as a replacement for proposed levies on tickets to performing arts, museums, and zoos, and on raffles run by civic groups.

The state budget is now 95 days late, the longest such impasse in the country.


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