Hey, ready for another state budget battle?

LET'S ALL WISH our (cough) great state leaders luck.

They're gonna need it.

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Turzai

For the Wolf administration and Republican bigwigs are starting to talk about a new state budget that's due at the end of next month.

That's right. Here we go again.

And as they chat about new taxes or no new taxes, fixing a deficit, funding education and so on, they face the same set of problems and issues that stymied them last time for, well, longer than the duration of a full-term pregnancy.

And after that there was no birth of a new Pennsylvania.

Instead, things that lots of folks want - property tax relief, pension reform, liquor reform, shale tax - died on the vine.

Instead, after cussin' and fightin' and partisan rancor, the Legislature passed a budget that Gov. Wolf allowed to become law that amounts to little more than maintenance.

Lawmakers looked inept and obdurate; and Wolf, who promised to be a "different" kind of governor, seemed just another guide in the land of gridlock, a Sherpa to the summit of sameness.

Ah, but now there's talk of a new day.

Negotiators now know each other. The Wolf team's polarizing presences, former policy honcho John Hanger and former chief of staff Katie McGinty, are gone. The heated rhetoric has cooled. And nobody wants a rerun of last year when the House, Senate and governor's office appeared to be playing movie roles in a Three Stooges version of Groundhog Day.

Oh, and it's an election year. Half the 50 Senate seats and all 203 House seats are up. So the rank-and-file will want to be home campaigning rather than spending another summer/fall in Harrisburg. First things first.

Still, none of this changes numbers or ideologies.

The Guv still wants new taxes, Republicans who control the Legislature still don't. And if new taxes couldn't pass last year, what happens in an election year?

Then there's the budget hole.

It ranges from $1 billion (what the GOP Senate says) to $1.5 billion (what Democratic House folks say) to $1.9 billion (what the administration says).

One of those numbers is close to what's needed just to get to or slightly above a maintenance level, or basically a budget redux.

Yet in February, in this year's budget address, Wolf told lawmakers if they send him a new budget that looks like the current budget, "I will not be amused."

Wolf wants to fill the budget hole and add more education money which almost certainly requires a level of revenue that would rely on increased personal income taxes and/or sales taxes.

But GOP House Speaker Mike Turzai tells me the budget should be based on "an appropriate level of growth," as was the budget recently enacted.

"You don't need a personal income tax or sales tax increase to meet appropriate growth from last year," Turzai said.

And he believes a budget with no new broad-based taxes, with bipartisan support can be on Wolf's desk by mid-June: "It's what's possible in a responsible spending environment."

There's chatter about tax hikes on income and cigarettes, about adding and taxing online gaming, about new revenue to fight heroin/opioid addiction, new revenue for property tax reduction.

But most of that means a fight.

And Wolf and Republicans have had that fight. Same issues, same arguments. They're punched-out on budget stuff. It's a rematch nobody wants.

But it's coming. Unless they come up with something new - and, oh, good luck with that.

baerj@phillynews.com

Blog: ph.ly/BaerGrowls

Columns: ph.ly/JohnBaer