There may not be high-level negotiating sessions yet, but Republicans and Democrats in the legislature are at least holding informal talks today on the state budget.
Up until now, the two sides have been fighting over competing versions of a spending plan for the new fiscal year, which began July 1. Gov. Rendell, as well as House Democratic leaders, have pushed an almost $29 billion proposal that would increase funding for education but temporarily increase the state's personal income tax rate by 16 percent. Republican legislative leaders have drawn a line in the sand and haven't wavered: they will not vote for any broad-based tax hikes. Instead, they're pushing for a $27.1 billion plan that calls for steep spending cuts.
Come Monday, House and Senate leaders will name appointees to a joint conference committee whose task it will be to hammer out a compromise.