(WHTM) — The calendar turns to June tomorrow and in Harrisburg, that means all eyes are on the budget, which is due at the end of the month.
This year there are lots of new faces in lots of new places, so here is a “who’s who” and a “whose new” in the ongoing negotiations.
With all the new faces around the budget table, even Harrisburg insiders would need a program to identify the players.
Tom Wolf is out and Josh Shapiro is in.
Budget Secretary Greg Thall is gone and has been replaced by Uri Monson.
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Senate Democrats are status quo, but not so much for Senate Republicans. In GOP leadership Jake Corman is out and Joe Pittman is in. Pat Browne is no longer the Republican Appropriations Chair with Scott Martin taking over.
Democrat Vince Hughes, who has held his position since 2010, is the senior statesman at the table.
“There’s a new political dynamic with the makeup of the room. The acrimony that historically was a part of the process is not there this time,” Hughes said.
In the House, Jordan Harris is the Democrats’ new appropriations chair. On the GOP side, York’s Stan Saylor is gone and York’s Seth Grove replaced him.
“You got to work things out, you know? There’s always the joke, like, we don’t have a budget done to we have the big blow-up. You know, maybe I just walk in there, I have a big blow-up. So we get out of the system like I hate you. All right, right. Get done,” Grove said.
Kerry Benninghoff is no longer the leader in the House and Republicans are no longer in control.
“In my 20 years of being a part of the budget is predict how to get 102 votes in the house and that it doesn’t matter if it’s a Democratic majority or a Republican majority and what the number is. It’s always very hard to get 102 votes in the house,” Thall said.
The unprecedented $5 billion in the rainy day fund and $11 billion surplus is making things easier, Thall added.
“There’s literally money for people to do almost anything they want to do,” he said.
The battle this year will be how to spend it. Not how to find it.
A new group of fighters in the ring is not necessarily a bad thing.
“There’s some willingness of the administration to not do the status quo. Let’s do something different that actually engages the citizens and advances the commonwealth forward. That’s what I look forward to most, to see how far we can move that ball, that bar away from the stale,” Grove said.
Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman said that getting a budget in on time is not as important as getting the budget correct.