Budget negotiations start getting serious

HARRISBURG (June 25) State legislators are narrowing their focus on budget negotiations as its deadline rests just five days away.

Leaders from the four caucuses broke from a final meeting on general issues this afternoon and will return at 6 P.M. to begin talks on education, said House Appropriations Committee Minority Chairman Mario Civera, R-Delaware.

The focus of this afternoon’s negotiations were still on “tightening global issues” and few details had been agreed upon yet, said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Gibson E. Armstrong, R-Lancaster.

“Everything is still on the table,” Civera said.

Negotiations have remained tethered to a debate on overall spending, said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Dwight Evans, D-Philadelphia. Republicans want to keep state spending near the four percent rate of inflation, said Senate President Pro-tempore Joseph B. Scarnati III, R-Cameron, which is less than Democratic proposals.

“Some steps forward,” said Senate Minority Leader Robert J. Mellow, D-Lackawanna.

The leaders will be available to meet late into the night to broker a deal that will have to be approved by the General Assembly and the Governor.

“Nobody has left the table,” Civera said. “So that’s good news.”

Image courtesy of Art Voice.