Senate GOP says budget is far from a done deal

As we noted this morning, the PA House took the unusual step yesterday of passing a state budget 100 days before the June 30th deadline. Democrats are talking up the vote: Rep. Dwight Evans told Daily News columnist John Baer: "We need to get this done. People want us to make this work."

But Republicans are warning that it's not time to break out the champagne. We reached out to Erik Arneson, a spokesman for the Senate GOP, for comment. He called the swift passage a “pleasant change,” but said that Republicans, who control the state Senate, see major flaws in the spending proposal.

State capitol

“The bill they passed does not account for the still-growing deficit,” said Arneson in an e-mail. “The governor's spending plan anticipated a year-end deficit of $525 million. We now believe that will exceed $800 million by the end of June, so that's a hole of about $300 million.”

Last year, the PA Senate and PA House waged a partisan battle for more than six months, and 101 days past the state budget deadline. According to Arneson, Democrats are playing politics by passing a budget that they know won't have support in the Senate.

“Yesterday's House vote was not about passing a budget they actually think can be the final bill,” he said. “It was all about them being able to repeat the mantra '100 days early' as often as possible, trying to counter the fact of "101 days late" from last year.”

The $29 billion budget passed by the PA House yesterday would included small spending increases for education, health and welfare, and corrections. It freezes or cuts spending in all other departments.

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