Pa. Senate Leader: Vote on Philly budget legislation could happen by end of August

Sen. Dominic Plieggi says a vote could happen shortly

Pileggi's office released a timetable for consideration of the bill yesterday evening, including a hearing tomorrow on the pension portion of the legislation and another session next week to consider the sales-tax request. The release said a final vote on the bill could be taken as early as Aug. 26.

"I think that once the questions are answered and once suggestions to improve it are vetted, that the majority of the votes in the Senate will be there," said Pileggi.

He made his remarks following a Harrisburg news conference where Senate Democrats accused him and other GOP leaders of holding Philadelphia hostage by delaying a vote on the bill to gain leverage in his negotiations with Rendell over the state budget impasse, now in its second month.

"We still have time, but it is running out," Sen. Shirley Kitchen (D., Phila.) said at the news conference. "This is not tied to the state budget in any way. It does not require the Senate to raise any taxes. We are simply untying Philadelphia's hands so that they can make the fiscal decisions that work best for them."

Rendell did not attend the news conference. Doing so, he said, "would probably make it worse," as Republicans would see him and think, "well, the governor wants this badly, so we will hold him off on the budget."

Still, he ripped into Senate Republicans for their inaction to date.

"This is going to force the layoff of 3,000 people. Are we playing games with people's lives?" Rendell said. "Take away 1,000 police from the streets of Philadelphia and somebody may die because of that. Those are not games that I have ever played, nor would I."