HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA/AP) – It took a marathon weekend session but — with just hours to spare — the General Assembly approved a new $28.4 billion dollar state budget.
But the legislature failed to act on several key bills like liquor reform and public transit.
Gov. Tom Corbett would prefer to focus on his no-new-taxes budget — but in a satellite interview with KDKA political editor Jon Delano– he acknowledged work is not yet done.
“We came up short. We kind of ran out of time. We had some bills moving,” said Corbett.
Those bills — reform of the state liquor system, transportation and mass transit funding, and pension reform for future public employees — did not get approved because of battles within the Republican Party that controls both houses in the legislature.
Senate Republicans refused to approve liquor privatization until House Republicans approved a transportation bill.
Corbett acknowledged he doesn’t yet have House Republican votes for that.
“It’s going to require Democrats to participate in it because it’s more robust than some Republicans are willing to get involved in,” said Corbett.
But Democrats would not vote for transportation funding because, insiders say, it didn’t provide enough for mass transit and would open the door to liquor privatization.
Corbett says he doesn’t like legislators linking transportation to liquor.
“I look at these bills independently, but it’s human nature to say I’ll trade you this for that. We’ve got to work on that this summer to get it resolved.”
The governor was asked if failure to get his three initiatives passed will affect his reelection.
“The people of Pennsylvania are going to decide next year how that plays out. I’m doing what I can to meet what they’ve told me what they think needs to be done,” Corbett noted.
Democrats say the governor’s failure to get his own Republicans on board shows failed leadership.
But Corbett says — on all three measures — the legislature is further along than it has been in the past and he’s optimistic.
Still, liquor reform, pension reform, and transportation funding won’t happen soon.
The legislature takes a two-and-a-half-month vacation from Harrisburg for the summer.