I'M SURE, like me, you're shocked to find today's deadline for a new state budget is passing without resolution.
It is - like reason, wisdom and political acumen in the capital city - absent without leave.
Hard to believe since just last week Gov. Wolf said he'd sign a new budget bill today.
That could have met projections by legislative leaders who agreed their agreed-to "framework" for new spending and taxes would be law Thanksgiving Day.
It's tempting to say "what a buncha turkeys" but that would be obvious and cliche. So let's just say the "framework" was constructed with dried-out turkey wishbones.
Just too easy to snap.
The problem appears to be that GOP leaders can't find enough votes to raise the sales tax to pay for some property-tax relief.
Or Democrats don't have or aren't willing to put up enough votes to raise the sales tax to pay for some property-tax relief.
In essence, nobody in leadership can lead because the Legislature's a fractured mess of varying degrees of not-in-my-yard, they-took-our-jobs, what's-in-it-for-me, compromise-equals-weakness, just-give-me-my-per-diem demagogues.
Schools in need? Social services in need? Counties in need? Victims of domestic abuse, hunger, homelessness or name-your-need in need?
Really doesn't matter.
So long as our elected can get paid and perked for spinning wheels and going nowhere, they will do so.
And they can do so because you're paying for fees and interests on loans they took to keep their pay and perks coming.
You'll recall they failed to pass an on-time budget back in June.
Then they spent months calling each other names and claiming each other abide in worlds disconnected from reality.
Then two weeks ago Democrat Wolf and Republican leaders agreed to that "framework" to raise some taxes, do some property-tax reform, throw in some pension and liquor reform, add some new money for schools and call it a year.
Then the turkey wishbone snapped.
Ah, but now there's new reason for hope because a favored Siren is calling.
The annual Pennsylvania Society weekend in New York City starts sometime Thursday, Dec. 10, and extends to Sunday, Dec. 13.
This is a multiday bacchanal: 60-plus mostly free parties, receptions, fundraisers and dinners anchored by a black-tie banquet in the tiered ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Saturday night, where this year's gold-medal honoree is former Gov. Ed Rendell.
The event dates back to 1899. It was started by Pennsylvanians living in New York celebrating their success and their home state.
It's become a must-attend for thousands: pols, lobbyists, candidates and wannabes honoring their state and pushing their interests while feeding the economy of another state.
This year, it's also become a call to get a budget done so attendees won't feel completely guilty making merry in Manhattan while failing in their jobs, which tells you all you need to know about their priorities.
A staffer to a Democratic Senate leader says Society weekend seems to be the driving force toward a budget agreement.
And a major lobbyist says, "They'll meet the needs of the people so they can meet their own needs - free shrimp."
So take heart.
Gov. Wolf is. He wants action before the event. This week he said Republicans "can run a budget that adheres to our framework" with enough votes to pass it, continue the impasse or "present me with any full-year spending plan that can pass by next Friday [Dec. 4]."
Or they could override Wolf's September veto of a stop-gap budget to temporarily fund schools and social services, easing the pressure.
In summation, divided leaders not governing in the Keystone State seem suddenly energized to do so by prospects of partying in the Empire State.
Maybe next year we should just offer them free shrimp in June.