Both the PA House and Senate are working over the weekend – could a budget come from this? 

July 3 – After the holiday on Thursday, apparently our Pennsylvania legislators are really going to buckle down and get to work, presumably on the budget that is now three days overdue. 

Both the PA House and Senate are scheduled to be in session on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 

Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “To me, that’s the signal everybody in Harrisburg must feel that there’s going to be something to address this weekend. Still no reporting, though, where that budget is, but maybe by the end of the weekend, we’re going to see much more on that with these extra session days added.” 

PA Representative Rob Kauffman said, “I will tell you of yesterday, what I was hearing was, well, there is a number, an agreement of a spend number. The first thing you have to determine is how much money do we have to spend? How much money are we going to spend? Like we’re going to spend $48 billion, something around there. Then the real work comes about whenever you’re hammering out the details. Okay, how much goes into education funding? What new programs are we funding? What old programs are being reduced or going away? I like to be an optimist, and trust me, I don’t think this gets any better as we move along. So my hope would be that, yes, there is a real deal, and it gets done this weekend. But the way that the House Democrats are scheduling right now, it’s very peculiar. I’ve never seen whenever you’re going to be in session, they have to Sunshine it. That’s what we call it, where they send out a notice you’re going to be in session. The way they’re sunshining session days and we’re going to be at three o’clock on Friday and three o’clock on Saturday and 11 o’clock on Sunday. No idea what they’re doing, no clue. And I frankly, don’t think they know, but it is very fascinating to me that they are scheduling every corner around this July 4 holiday while we had the entire week of Juneteenth off. Sometimes, I don’t like to get too weird, but sometimes I think they’re making a statement when they do these kinds of things.”

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM suggested, “It’s theater.” 

Kauffman said, “Many of our staff, they have families, they have plans. They’re going to be coming in on days that they had planned to go away to celebrate the Fourth of July. It does really bother me, because, my time is, I’m working there, I’m doing my best for the people I represent. That’s what I signed up for. But the staff and families who want to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, well, they could celebrate Juneteenth a few weeks ago, all week. You can celebrate it all week.”

Ryan pointed out, “Talk to me about the overtime and the money involved with putting this production on. We’re still pulling resources, people, security, the whole machine has to be started up on a weekend. What is this extra cost involved with doing this, since we couldn’t get it done when we were supposed to get it done, now we’re on the hook as taxpayers to pay all these people to come back in?”

Kauffman confirmed, “You’re definitely looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars because you don’t necessarily, most of the employees, you’re not paying them overtime, per se. You’re looking at comp time, you’re looking at expenses for members who live hundreds and hundreds of miles away, or staying overnight, and who are getting per-diems, all of the travel. So you are certainly looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars just to keep this operation rolling on if you add up all these times where we really shouldn’t be in session because we should have had this done. So, yes, there is certainly an expense to go along with it, maybe not necessarily, quote, paying people over time, but the building isn’t fully energized and lit up, usually on the weekends and on these holiday times. It’s a skeletal crew, the security is very skeletal. If there are members in the building, and goodness knows, we hope the governor is there, because, frankly, we need him to weigh in on these issues that are holding things up.”