While negotiators have said they are discussing using some combination of borrowing, gambling expansion and other measures to close last year's shortfall and pay for the entirety of this year's budget, on Friday they were saying little. But Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D., Allegheny), took some questions about the talks. Here are excerpts from the conversation:
Lobbyist Gene Barr is the voice of business in the Keystone State. He's so in sync with the Harrisburg budget cycle that his June 30 birthday falls on the date of the annual budget deadline. John Baer talked with him about jobs and how PA can compete against the likes of Texas - and also discovered a soft spot for Civil War movies … and love stories.
The Republican-controlled legislature is hoping this week to send Gov. Wolf a long-fought bill to overhaul retirement benefits in Pennsylvania's two debt-riddled public pension plans. The Senate approved the legislation Monday, and the House is expected to vote on it by Thursday - and say they have the votes to pass it. Wolf, a Democrat, has said he supports it. On the surface, it looks like a deal. But everyone is still cautious, since less than two years ago, a tentative agreement on a pension reform bill imploded at the eleventh hour.