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Politics & Government

Fiscal Code Outstanding Without a Vote in Sight

Republican state lawmakers are insisting the budget for this year was delivered on time, but a key companion bill called the fiscal code is missing, and no timetable has been set to send it to the governor.

The House has gaveled out for the summer, and a spokesman for the governor said Monday the House hasn't scheduled a day to come back to Harrisburg. For the time being, the earliest session day is September 23.

The Corbett administration isn't sure the fiscal code can wait that long. In a press release last week, the governor's budget secretary said failing to pass the budget-supporting legislation of fund transfers could cause a $235 million drop in available money for the commonwealth. Others in the Capitol said, given the complexities of the bill, such an estimate could be conservative.

Steve Miskin, speaking on behalf of House Speaker Sam Smith, said the caucus isn't sure exactly what would be the ramifications of letting the fiscal code sit without a final vote until September.

"We have to take a look," Miskin said last week. "That's what we are going to confirm and check."

The fiscal code also includes a $45 million funding relief package for Philadelphia schools. House Democratic spokesman Bill Patton said it's hardly the only major item in the bill.

"The fiscal code is 57 pages of arcane legislative language," Patton said. "It would not surprise me if there are a number of other problems that have yet to be discovered by not getting this bill done on time."

The bill's final passage was delayed last week when Senate Republicans shot down a change made by the House GOP suggesting the Legislature would legalize high-interest payday loans. The Senate Majority Leader said including such language was inappropriate. He said his caucus hadn't agreed to it.