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Pennsylvania Democrats say they've been left out of budget talks

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

HARRISBURG — House Democratic leaders say they've been shut out of state budget negotiations and operate on rumors and press reports. But a Republican spokesman said Democrats did it to themselves.

"We should be at the table," said Rep. Joe Markosek, of Monroeville, ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.

"It's government by guess," he said today.

Democrats are the minority party in both houses. Negotiations on a $27.3 billion budget have taken place between GOP leaders of both chambers and representatives of Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, acknowledged that historically both Democrats and Republicans have shut out the minority party. But he said at a news conference the current situation is "over the top."

Dermody warned there will be "draconian cuts" in the budget and added Democrats "have some pretty good ideas" to improve it. In the same breath, he said, "This budget stinks."

Stephen Miskin, spokesman for House Republicans, said Democrats have told them they are going to vote against the budget.

"They took themselves out of it," Miskin said. "They didn't offer an alternative. They didn't offer suggestions.

"They've become professional critics," Miskin said.

He said Republicans while in the minority offered a budget alternative in the 2009 budget impasse of 101 days and GOP members had their ideas incorporated into recent budgets under Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell.

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