It won't exactly be a debate - but Gov. Rendell has accepted an invitation from the public television station in Harrisburg to appear on a show next week with Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati to talk budget stuff.

The way it's going to work, according to Rendell's spokesman, is that each man will have a half-hour to answer a set of questions related to the budget.

Rendell chose that format over a debate, Ardo said, because he "was concerned that a debate would inflame already high passions and that it would end up being detrimental to the negotiating process."

Earlier this week, Capitolwire news service reported that the governor had rejected a proposal by the television station to debate the state budget live against Scarnati, a Republican from Jefferson who is also the state's lieutenant governor. Rendell and Senate Republicans have been at odds for months over the budget: the governor is pushing a $29 billion plan that includes proposals to hike several taxes, including the personal income tax. Republicans have balked for months at raising any taxes in a recession year.

A budget must be passed by July 1, although no one in the Capitol expects it to happen before that time.

Ardo said the Rendell/Scarnati forum is scheduled for Wednesday of next week, but will get us further details on the time. He did say he expects it to be broadcast to television stations across the state.

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