Budget Progress in Several States

By: - June 30, 2010 12:00 am

For the first time since taking office in 2003, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell may sign a budget on time this year.

Like 45 other states, Pennsylvania faces its budget deadline at the end of today (June 30), and lawmakers are expected to spend the day hammering out last-minute details and voting on a billion plan that Rendell and legislative leaders agreed to on Tuesday (June 29).

Even if the final votes aren’t gathered until after the new fiscal year begins Wednesday (July 1), it appears that Pennsylvania is in far better shape politically than last year, when it became the last state in the nation to approve a budget after months of bickering among the Republican-led Senate, the Democratic-led House and Rendell, a Democrat.

Nationally, it appears that 2010 will have fewer budget standoffs than 2009, when 10 states brushed up against their deadlines and at least six missed them, as Stateline reported. With the notable exceptions of California, which adjourned without a budget on Monday, and New York, which is already three months overdue for a budget, state lawmakers elsewhere are finding more common ground this year. That could be because it’s an election year and restless voters may not be in the mood for politics as usual.

Earlier this week, the Democratic-led New Jersey legislature approved possibly the nation’s most controversial budget, the all-cuts package pushed since early this year by Republican Governor Chris Christie, who signed it on Tuesday. As The New York Times reported, the budget was a major win for Christie, who “did little of the usual horse-trading and seemed to welcome public clashes with lawmakers and powerful interest groups like the state teachers’ union.”

Delaware is expected to have a final budget in place on time after the state Senate voted to approve one on Tuesday, the first time in years that the legislature acted on the budget a day before the deadline, as The News-Journal of Wilmington reported. And in North Carolina, which had a protracted budget battle last year, lawmakers modified the second year of that two-year budget without major gridlock earlier this week.

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