Capitol confusion: Is there a budget or isn’t there?

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The 100th Pennsylvania Farm Show is in full swing.

Things are considerably slower a few blocks away at the Capitol.

Right behind, “who cleans up all those animal droppings?” one of the most frequently asked questions is, “How is the show a go when the state budget’s a no-show?”

“They bring in revenue through parking and other mechanisms,” Governor Wolf’s spokesman Jeff Sheridan said. “So, the Farm Show was able to continue this year and will continue.”

Back at the Capitol, House Republicans reject the premise of the question.

“We finished the budget,” insisted Representative Brian Ellis (R-Butler), the House Republican caucus administrator. Ellis maintains that the budget passed both chambers and is now law except for the items blue-lined by Wolf. So, mission accomplished?

“In our minds, we’ve passed a budget that funds government, funds all the services. Money’s being pushed back out to the schools and social services. The ball’s in the governor’s court,” Ellis said.

Wolf’s spokesman promptly bounced it back.

“Each budget the Republicans in the Legislature sent us was more irresponsible than the last one,” Sheridan said. “The sheer volume of what they left unfinished before they left for holiday vacation is unbelievable. They didn’t pass any of the accompanying code bills, they didn’t pass any revenue to pay for what they wanted to spend.”

Ellis disagrees and says the public perception that there’s an impasse is incorrect.

“There is a budget, so the whole concept of there being an impasse, an impasse implies two parties fighting with each other – we passed a budget, it became law, and then he [Wolf] cut a bunch,” he said.

We asked a top staffer in the Senate Republican caucus if he agrees with House Republicans that the budget’s done. He smiled and simply said, “No, we’ve still got work to do.”

So, 197 days after the budget was due, major players at the table can’t even agree on whether Pennsylvania has one.

Maybe the guy cleaning the animal messes at the Farm Show this week should get hired a few blocks away because there’s plenty of that stuff flying around in the Capitol.

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