ShareThis Page

Kortz, Markosek criticize Pennsylvania budget efforts

| Friday, July 12, 2013, 2:41 a.m.

Two area Democratic state lawmakers are critical of the House Republican leadership for their handling of loose ends in the 2013-14 budget process.

“The Speaker (of the House Sam Smith, R-Punxsutawney) is convening the House for a voting session Monday,” said Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Dravosburg, releasing a copy of a letter sent to lawmakers by Smith.

“If they did things on the up and up we would not have this mess,” Kortz said in an email to The Daily News.

The budget was not completely done, House Appropriations Minority Chairman Joseph Markosek, D-Monroeville, said on Thursday, because a fiscal code was not approved.

“The fiscal code includes language that implements the state budget,” Markosek said. “Without the fiscal code, money cannot be distributed to certain aspects of state government including the state police for three cadet classes, the Department of Agriculture for the veterinary laboratory, county nursing homes, hospitals, water and sewer projects, transfers to the General Fund, et cetera.”

The matter is unresolved because the House inserted language that eased restrictions on “payday loans,” which had not been agreed to by leaders of both chambers.

The Senate took out that language last week.

Organizations opposed to the idea say the typical $300 payday loan carries a 300 percent APR or annual percentage rate and must be paid back in full within two weeks. State law caps such interest at 30 percent.

Numerous Republican lawmakers hailed the on-time passage of a 2013-14 budget, which was signed by Gov. Tom Corbett on June 30.

“Gov. Corbett continues to falsely claim he has signed three on-time budgets,” Markosek said. “The governor only signed one of 18 budget bills before the June 30 deadline. I would hardly consider that to be timely.”

Smith spokesman Stephen Miskin said earlier this week that there would be no immediate budget impact, though he acknowledged there might be a delay of funding to state-related universities, including Pitt and Penn State.

Trib Total Media State Capitol Reporter Brad Bumsted contributed to this story. Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.