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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.

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