Budget talks continue in Harrisburg among legislative leaders and the governor. However, those negotiations are happening behind closed doors and without the input of Democrats. Gov. Tom Corbett has not avoided the fact that budget talks have been a Republicans-only affair so far.
"This, it has to be passed by a majority. The Republicans are in the majority in both houses. The discussions that the Democrats have put out there is that they want to continue to spend and at least I have the Republicans trying to save money in some areas," Corbett explained.
There is still plenty of dissension over the state spending plan due by the end of the month. The governor said he had to tell Senate Republicans that their $27.65 billion budget plan is more than he's willing to spend.
"I think that the spending is too high. I think they have a ceiling. We made our budget recommendations back in February. I agree that's a basement, and I have to say that we have seen some improvement in receipt of revenues, so I'm looking for some areas that I can put money back into the budget, but I don't believe I can go as high as the Senate and the House," Corbett said.
He cited concerns about rising health care and pension costs as reasons for wanting not to make such large restorations in funding for things like higher education, public schools, and social services programs.
The governor added that whatever budget is finally passed, the year after will require increases in state spending that are beyond the state's control. "Mandates from Washington when it comes to Medicaid, increases in health care costs, and the increase in the pension. We know the next increase in the pension is at least another 500 million dollars," Corbett said.