Our opinion: Game in extra innings
Republicans in Harrisburg would like to believe that, once again, with their brethren controlling both houses of the legislature and living in the governor’s mansion, they passed a state budget on time.
Well, yes. And, no.
In fact, they were a couple weeks late. You see, the Pennsylvania budget comes in two parts. There is the spending plan, and there is the fiscal code, which essentially lays out how the spending plan will be funded.
It’s that latter part that spoiled another perfect game for the GOP.
And, this time, they don’t have Democrats to blame.
The blame should be aimed at some members of their party’s House leadership who engaged in some 11th hour shenanigans by slipping in a sentence committing the House and Senate to lifting the state’s ban on “payday loans.”
For those of you who don’t remember them, payday loan offices would happily lend you money for two weeks, basically until your next pay check. But the interest rates were nothing short of legalized usury. Get behind in your payments and the interest rate and penalties skyrocket to as much as 300 percent annual rate.
The addition appeared on page 55 of the 57-page fiscal code bill.
Had it not been caught by a reviewer in the Senate, where a similar proposal had already received a chilly reception, it might have sailed through.
Instead, Senate GOP leaders got understandably huffy that their counterparts in the House were “commiting” them to a distasteful proposal without their advance knowledge.
Hence, the fiscal code went into the tenth inning and tarnished Gov. Tom Corbett’s much ballyhooed budget-on-time record. Needless to say, the payday loan provision was excised from the final version.