Several top Republicans in the state Legislature have set an ambitious deadline for approving a final budget: June 13.
While "mid-June" has been a rough goal of some lawmakers since the Senate passed its budget two weeks ago, today Sen. Jake Corman, R-Centre and the chair of the Appropriations Committee, and Majority Leader Rep. Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, both forecasted to reporters that the budget could be done in three weeks.
"It's always good to have goals in life," said a grinning Corman, at the end of his remarks to the monthly Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon in Harrisburg.
The constitutionally mandated deadline is June 30, a date they narrowly met last year (by about 13 minutes). Steve Miskin, Mr. Turzai's spokesman, said that discussions have been ongoing between both branches of the legislature since the Senate passed its budget.
Miskin also said that the Appropriations Committee will begin to take up the Senate budget at its meeting this afternoon.
The Senate bill restored some $500 million cut from Gov. Tom Corbett's originally proposed budget, for a total of $27.6 billion.
Other highlights from the lunch with Mr. Corman:
-Pension reform "absolutely, positively has to be done," he said.
-Corman continued to push for higher education funding, calling the roughly $1.1 billion spent there a "good investment."
-General Assistance funding is difficult to put into the budget Corman said, as are all welfare programs without a federal mandate.