In Harrisburg, Inching Toward a Schedule, If Not a Budget Deal
State budget negotiations are starting to take shape in Harrisburg. The backbiting has subsided for now, as meetings pick up between Gov. Tom Wolf and legislative leaders.
The governor rankled Republicans recently when he said he was prepared to work on a state budget long after the June 30 deadline.
House Republican Majority Leader Dave Reed took umbrage at the remark, calling it "premature" and suggesting Wolf said it because he was "new at this process." By Wednesday, things had been smoothed over in a meeting Wolf held with GOP legislative leaders the day before.
"It was actually brought up in a humorous format yesterday," said Reed. "The governor said that he was mostly just trying to joke around about being here through the winter, and his goal was to be done by June 30th, and I think that's a goal the House and Senate share as well."
Lawmakers say bipartisan "working groups" will begin meeting this week to tackle the different pieces of the commonwealth's spending plan and try to find common ground.
Senate Democrats said it's a method used most recently under former Gov. Ed Rendell, and they're happy to see it return.
"They haven't been utilized for the last four years to the degree that they should have been," said Costa.
Reed said the groups aren't being given any deadlines.
Republicans, who control the Legislature, have panned Wolf's budget proposal and said they'll be voting on their own priorities in the months ahead.