According to the state constitution, Gov. Ed Rendell and the legislature have exactly one month to wrap up the state budget. As we wrote earlier today, there are some signs that Harrisburg might be moving quicker than last year, when the budget was late by more than 100 days. However, we shouldn't kid ourselves. The state budget has been late every year for the past seven and many believe that this could easily be as rough as last year.
Here is our big question: Does it really matter?
Sure, it was embarrassing that it look the legislature so long last year. And there were very real consequences for state vendors, who saw payments delayed while politicians worked out a deal. The biggest impact was probably felt by non-profits with contracts to provide social services, since they rely heavily on state funding.
Still, we can't help but think that the actual choices in the budget are more important than deadlines. Whatever budget eventually gets passed needs to adequately fund services without causing too much pain for ordinary citizens -- that's the priority. For example, we'd rather have a state budget that taxes natural gas companies for mining operations than one that is rushed through the legislature to meet a deadline. It's not important that lawmakers get the budget done by June 30th. It's important that the eventual budget passed by lawmakers is a good piece of legislation.
What do you think? Does timing matter on the state budget?