By Eric Boehm | PA Independent
HARRISBURG – Last June, Senate Democrats made daily, vocal visits to the Capitol newsroom to make it clear they were entirely displeased with being shut out of the state budget process.
This year, they are noticeably silent.
After more than half of the caucus voted in favor of the state budget when it passed the state Senate last month, Senate Democratic leaders have not been included in the closed-door negotiations between the Republican majority in the state House, state Senate and Gov. Tom Corbett.
However, they remain convinced that they are being heard.
“We feel that our concerns are being addressed,” Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, said Monday evening. “We have had multiple opportunities to discuss things with the Senate Republicans.”
But that doesn’t mean they are entirely satisfied with the budget as it stands right now.
Costa and state Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia, said the caucus still wants to see additions to several parts of the spending plan, including more funding for basic education and a fund that helps pay for human services at the county level.
They also seek the reversal of Corbett’s decision to end cash assistance for the poor in this year’s budget, Hughes said.
After breaking off negotiations on Wednesday afternoon, Republican lawmakers and Corbett met in private on Monday and reported that they had not yet reached agreement on how to close a $300 million difference between their proposed spending plans.