Today's budget headline: Hurry up and wait

Another day has come and gone without agreement on any of the major policy initiatives in Harrisburg.

As the legislative clock quickly winds down to the June 30 deadline to pass a state budget, Gov. Corbett and Republicans who control the legislature are struggling to strike a compromise on what have come to be known as "The Big Three": privatizing the sale of wine and liquor, reining in the skyrocketing cost of public employee pensions, and funding roads, bridges and mass transit.

Senate Republicans spent nearly five hours behind closed doors Wednesday trying to hammer out their differences on liquor privatization, only to postpone taking up amendments to the bill on the floor, as they had planned. Meanwhile, their Republican counterparts in the House moved fitfully between calling committee meetings to vote on a transportation funding bill, and then canceling them.

Legislators also pressed the pause button on moving pension legislation to put all new state employees into 401(K)-style plans, as well as the $28.3 billion budget bill.

The budget (with its related legislation) is really the only bill that needs to pass by midnight Sunday, although Corbett has strongly urged the legislature to tackle the Big Three before that time as well.

Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Jake Corman (R., Centre) told reporters Wednesday that the Senate is expected to begin debating changes to the liquor bill on Thursday, but did not signal that his party had the votes yet to get it through the 50-member chamber. 

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