Lawmakers Begin Debating Budget Plan

HARRISBURG — Now that the governor has said made his budget pitch the debate in Harrisburg can begin.

Lawmakers from both parties will start to hammer out a deal that could include elements of what Governor Corbett proposed Tuesday.

Some state lawmakers called Corbett’s budget speech “ambitious.”

From privatizing the state liquor system to paying for transportation, some of the governor’s proposals are welcomed by lawmakers more than others.

The protests rang out inside the State Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg before, during, and after the governor’s budget address.

Once things quieted down, lawmakers from around the state gave their take on what Governor Corbett has in mind.

“There is nothing, nothing for the average working person here in this state budget,” said Senator Vincent Hughes, a Democrat from Philadelphia.

A major component of the budget plan for 2013-2014 calls for paying for transportation needs, including roads and bridges through changes that could result in higher gas prices.

“I would hope not, one of the issues we’ll have to look at,” said Senator David Argall, R, Schuylkill County. “That’s why we have three weeks of budget hearings, we’re going to go through that thing line by line.”

Representative Mario Scavello, R, Monroe County is among the Republicans who say both parties should work together to deal with transportation needs.

“We can’t continue to kick that can forward, we’ve been doing it for 8 years under Rendell and first two Corbett years,” he said.

However, Democrats take an exception to the governor’s proposal to pay for education with the sale of the state liquor stores.

Instead, they suggest tens of millions of dollars could be saved by downsizing the legislature.

“We won’t be manipulated, we want school safety, we want strong education, but not from liquor sales,” said Representative Kevin Haggerty, D, Lackawanna County.

Democrats, who are in the minority for a third straight year, said they don’t like the sound of pension reform or passing on the expansion of Medicare.

However, they are also bothered by what they didn’t hear from the governor.

“I didn’t hear anything in this budget that isn’t going to change what has been two years of job crushing policies,” said Senator John Yudichack, D, Luzerne County.

Of course, all the governor’s proposals now need to go through the legislative process.

The state house and the senate will start debating what will be in that budget for 2013-2014, due by the end of June.