Sunday, June 15, 2014

Two weeks of high-drama budgets ahead in PA and NJ

Pennsylvania state budget crisis

PA Capitol Building
"When legislators return to the Capitol on Monday, they will have just two weeks left to figure out two things: how to close a gaping budget deficit, and how to do it without damaging their reelection chances.
"With the clock ticking fast down to the June 30 deadline to pass a state budget, the GOP-controlled legislature and Gov. Corbett appear nowhere near reaching an agreement on the best way to close a budget gap ranging between $1.2 billion and $1.5 billion."

That's the two-sentence setup to Philadelphia Inquirer writer Angela Couloumbis' story today about the looming state budget deadline in Pennsylvania.

New Jersey state budget crisis

NJ Dome with puffy clouds in backgrouindThings are pretty much the same in neighboring New Jersey, where the Inquirer’s Maddie Hanna writes:

"New Jersey lawmakers have a little more than two weeks to devise a budget that fills a $1.7 billion revenue hole expected next year - while also confronting the possibility that a court could scuttle a plan to plug a $1 billion shortfall in the fiscal year that ends June 30.
"Their deliberations may hinge on a hearing five days before the budget deadline, when a state judge will hear a challenge by public-sector unions to Gov. Christie's proposal to address shortfalls this year and next by slashing payments to the pension system."
Rescuing the damsel

It's serious business for sure, but the 'rescue the damsel from the oncoming train' theme is replayed with such predictability each year that one suspects that state lawmakers share more than a passing appreciation for melodrama and the news coverage it generates.
Over the next 15 days you can expect charges and counter charges across the political aisle, rumors of off-stage intrigue, proposals run up flagpoles and shot to tatters, cries of villainy and then, suddenly, as the constitutionally mandated date for budget adoption arrives, the cannons will fall silent, the smoke will clear and, ta-da, an agreement appears, followed by the bill signing, some laughs, and the thunder of hoof steps down marble hallways as lawmakers book it out of town for summer vacation.
Until then, two weeks of politics at its dramatic best. Enjoy 

Related news stories:
Pa. legislators face tough budget decisions 
N.J. budget woes going down to the wire   
Christie Proposes Reducing Pension Payment to Balance Budget (Video) 
Analysis: Despite budget gap, Christie holding firm that business tax cuts are off-limits 
Deadline looms for Pennsylvania's state budget
Pa. state budget: Many ideas, but little consensus
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