Last month Gov. Rendell went one-on-one with the NRA on national TV in a debate over the federal assault weapons ban.

Now, with a budget crisis closer to home, Rendell is suddenly camera shy.

He rejected a proposal by Harrisburg's public TV station that he debate the state budget live against Lt. Gov. Joe Scarnati (R., Jefferson), reported the new service Capitolwire. Rendell and Senate Republicans have dueling budget proposals under consideration as the clock ticks down toward the end-of-the-fiscal-year deadline on June 30.

Rendell plans to announced his latest trims to his $29 billion spending plan this week. The Senate GOP passed a $27.3 billion proposed budget last month. Today neither proposal would balance the budget in the face of continued revenue declines adding pressure for broad-based tax increase.

On Friday, Rendell's office notified the station that, because they expected progress on the budget soon, they would not agree to appearing on a debate later this month. His spokesman Chuck Ardo wrote in an email to the station: "We believe the parties should be working toward a budget resolution by then with the time to debate having passed."

Scarnati's spokesman Todd Nyquist told Capitolwire Pennsylvanians deserve a public budget debate. "The budget's too important for the governor to stand in front of the TV camera and give Pennsylvanians a sound-bite," Nyquist told the news service.  "We think the budget needs discussion and debate in front of Pennsylvanians...Let's hear why he wants to take more money from Pennsylvanians now, when families and businesses are already under such financial pressure."

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