Thursday, 29 June 2006

News of budget deal trumped by floods

by Damon Boughamer
Public Radio Capitol News, serving Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, Penna. (PRCN, 29 June 2006) – In a major development – negotiators reached a tentative budget deal at the state Capitol, where busy officials did begin the day by reacting to the flooding.

Governor Rendell activated the National Guard, declared disaster emergencies in 46 counties and said it will be a day or two before the determination is made on whether to seek federal aid.

"We try to be accurate. We try not to just throw everything in because we want to have credibility with FEMA. When we ask for a county, we want them to believe there’s a credible amount of damage. And FEMA independently reviews our estimates," Rendell said.

Lawmakers, facing a Friday night deadline, pressed forward on the budget, and by mid-afternoon, leaders announced a compromise. Overall spending jumps at least six percent.

Separately, later, the House voted to declare English the official language of the commonwealth, 122 to 70, after a motion to defer the debate failed by a 96-96 tie.

Away from the legislature, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved licenses for so-called "suppliers," who will acquire slots machines and sell them to casinos.

A board member who had insisted on awarding licenses geographically dropped his demand, allowing the panel to head off regulatory intervention that could have delayed parlor openings by a year.


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