New poll: Voters blame Rendell for budget stalemate

A new poll says Gov. Rendell may be in trouble

A record 53 percent of voters in a Quinnipiac University poll yesterday said they disapproved of the way Rendell is doing his job, compared with 39 percent who approved.

And, those voters added, they think the governor is "the most responsible" for the budget quagmire between his administration and Republicans in the legislature.

"Up to now, we've called Gov. Ed Rendell 'Teflon Ed,' but the budget crisis clearly has put some scratches on him, and the state economic crisis is sticking to the governor," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Still, yesterday brought some hope that there could be movement in the impasse: A conference committee of legislative leaders will, within the next few days, be named to craft a budget that reflects the priorities of both Democrats and Republicans. The committee was formed after the Democratic-controlled House voted, 150-49, to reject a Republican budget proposal pushed by Senate GOP leaders.

That development is widely seen as positive because it will push the two sides to negotiate in earnest.

Until now, there has been a lot of talk - with few results - over what constitutes the best budget for Pennsylvania during this recession.

The governor has pushed for an almost $29 billion plan that would increase spending for basic education but would raise the state income-tax rate by 16 percent. Republicans have flatly rejected any tax increases and instead have pushed for spending plans that advocate sharp cuts.