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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dally Attempts to Break State Budget Bottleneck

Pennsylvania has the dubious distinction of being the only state in the nation with no budget. If you're a rank and file state representative with no leadership position, what can you do? Rep. Craig Dally answered that question today. He's proposing that the House meet daily and remain in continuous session, as a committee of the whole, until we finally have an appropriations bill.

Dally told me early this evening that he has over sixty co-sponsors from both parties, and is working to get to that magic number of 102, which will force the Speaker to take action. These included Lehigh Valley legislators like Joe Brennan, Rich Grucela, Karen Beyer, Gary Day, Julie Harhart and Dough Reichley. But legislators like Jenn Mann, Bob Freeman and Steve Samuelson had not yet signed on. I hope that changes tomorrow, and that people like Mann and Freeman are more interested their constituents than they are in keeping leadership positions.

In a news conference late this afternoon, which you can see on Dally's web page, Craig and numerous other state representatives explain their thinking.

“Once convened, the first order of business will be to resolve the House into a Committee of the Whole to prepare a bill to be enacted as the General Appropriations Act of 2009,” Dally said. “As elected members of the House of Representatives, we have the responsibility to our constituents to take the necessary action to pass a budget bill without further delay, and a Committee of the Whole is the best way to do that.

“Not only is the lack of a state budget an embarrassment to the Commonwealth, the stalemate is having an adverse effect on many children, families and taxpayers across the state,”
Dally said.

Procedurally, there are a number of differences between the Committee of the Whole and regular House Session. The motions are restricted to limiting debate and to recommend and to rise. The Committee of the Whole cannot take any final action, and its power is limited to making a recommendation to the House, the same as any other committee.

Dally said a Committee of the Whole will give every House member the opportunity to step forward and express their frustration with the process and offer their solutions. It gives each member a voice.

“Under the temporary rule I am proposing, only the General Appropriations Act of 2009 can be considered. Votes on various budget proposals can be taken, but no record will be retained of the individual yeas and nays. When a budget proposal receives a majority vote, the full committee of the whole must 'rise and report' its work to the House. The House will then convene in regular session and vote on the General Appropriations Act of 2009, which is the work product generated by the Committee of the Whole.

“With Pennsylvania’s budget now late by more than 70 days, lawmakers are asked every day by the people who elected us: ‘What are you doing to get a state budget passed?’”
Dally said.

“We recognize that the conference committee members have been using their best efforts in reaching a resolution, and their work is in no way impeded by this process. It allows a parallel process to be engaged with the ultimate goal being a General Fund budget.

“Passage of this resolution will allow rank-and-file members to be actively engaged in bringing this budget drama to an end,”
said Dally.

Though unable to attend this afternoon's news conference, Rich Grucela claimed we need to "use every tool at our disposal to enact a budget.”

The failure to adopt a budget over the last 72 days is an indictment of the leadership of both houses of the legislature, as well as Governor Rendell. If they are unwilling to lead, or are too busy raising funds or golfing, perhaps the Committee of the Whole can recommend new leaders who are willing to do the job.

At the end of today's news conference, about ten state representatives asked reporters if they had questions. There was only one. When the camera panned to the reporter pool, I expected to see a crowd, but there was just one reporter.

Blogger's Note: The Resolution is called HR 460.


Sanctifying Grace said...

Craig Dally will probably get one of my votes for County Common Pleas Judge, just because of this proposal.

Peace, ~~Alex

Anonymous said...

Wow, Dally who happens to be running for Judge says lets all just get along. He has done nothing in Harrisburg for years other than warm a seat and get a check.

Ohare slams Mann and Freeman if they don't play this obvious politcial game. If Dally wasn't running for judge he would not say a peep.

Many will now see why these guys are powerless. He will never get the signatures and he knows it. The leadership runs Harrisburg these guys are just along for the gravytrain ride.

Of course as an ohare mancrush this non-action will be hailed as some non political piece of tremendous legislation rather than the blatent political media event that it really is. HAHAHA

Bernie O'Hare said...

I find it refreshind that some rank and file House members, from both parties, are willing to step forard and say - enough. In one day, Craig has over 60 co-sponsors. He's well on his way to forcing this issue.

This is similar to what Lisa Boscola would do back when she cared about legislating instead of host voting.

Anonymous said...

If you have any legitimacy this is one you call Bullshit on.

What a crock.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have a little more legitimacy than someone who posts anonymously at 3:18 AM.

Anonymous said...

None of them deserve a single bit of credit at this point. Our governor and legislature are national embarrassments; Dally included.

And where is Rich Grucela's leadership? There's an oxymoron.

Anonymous said...

i hope he's successful but I doubt it will get to 102.

Anonymous said...

So after 70+ days of doing nothing (read: collecting a $158/day per deim) Dally is proactively trying to get this settled? Really? Seriously? You really believe what you wrote? Even with the mancrush you have on Dally you have to see this is Dally playing politics at it's worst.

Now if he had gone circus freak crazy about this impass on, let's say July 3, decided he should not collect pay or per deim as a result of not doing what he is paid to do (you know, pass a budget), then I think you have an argument Bernie.

But he didn't ... So you don't.

Marc Grammes said...

Good for Craig Dally! He has declined to submit per diems until we have a budget. And he is at least moving forward, something which can't be said for many. I hope the voter's remember that. Meanwhile, J.Harhart's golf outing is next week.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"So after 70+ days of doing nothing (read: collecting a $158/day per deim) Dally is proactively trying to get this settled? Really? Seriously? You really believe what you wrote?"

If you are going to smear someone anonymously, I guess you might as well lie about it. The fact is that Craig has not accepted a paycheck nor submitted for personal expenses since July 1 and will not until a budget is passed. Anyone is free to contact the House Comptroller's office to verify.

Anonymous said...

Wow after 6 years Dally is making headlines. Just so happens to be running for judge. Just a coincidence.

Anonymous said...

Most of you are entirely pathetic. I'd like to see how much you'd get done out in that mess of an atmosphere out in Harrisburg. State Representative Dally has made the headlines many of times over the course of his time in the State House. And to think that he's actually trying to do something for YOU, the PEOPLE, HIS CONSTITUENTS, instead of letting the leadership screw all of you over, and all you have to do is bash him? That's actually hilarious. His main focus has and always will be his constituents. And since June, he has accepted absolutely NO paychecks nor submitted ANY per diems. Maybe you fools should do your research before you intend to criticize an incredibly respected public official.

Bram Reichbaum said...

I like this instinctively, but what about the Senate? What if they just don't dig what comes out of the crazy experiment?

Anonymous said...

Sorry Mrs. Dally.