HARRISBURG - The state budget impasse is taking some degree of shine off the forthcoming Pennsylvania Society weekend in New York City, traditionally the premiere hobnobbing event for political leaders, brokers, and candidates.
On Wednesday, as lawmakers again left the Capitol without a deal, Gov. Wolf became the latest official to announce that he would not make the trip if the stalemate was not resolved. He joined a chorus of legislative leaders from both parties who have also canceled their plans.
"If there's no budget, I'm not going," Wolf told reporters following his first public appearance this week.
Two high-ranking senators - Joe Scarnati (R., Jefferson), president pro tempore, and Jay Costa (D., Allegheny), minority leader - are not attending either, their spokesmen said. And House Republicans and Democrats are scheduled to be in session Friday and Saturday, when they typically would be gathering in Manhattan.
"For all legislators, the job comes first," said Bill Patton, spokesman for House Democrats.
The glamorous outing has long been a prominent fund-raising and gossiping weekend for Pennsylvania lawmakers, candidates, and lobbyists. All members of the state House are up for reelection next fall, as are half of the state's senators, providing plenty of excuses for political players to mingle during cocktail receptions and sponsored parties.
But the lack of a state spending plan - and the turmoil that has enveloped Harrisburg as lawmakers seek to pass one - has led to the growing list of defections.
Beyond Harrisburg, those who had either decided not to attend or were leaning that way included Philadelphia's Mayor-elect Jim Kenney and City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, and Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane, according to their spokesmen.
Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre) was focused on the budget and had not decided, said his spokeswoman, Jenn Kocher.
Some in the Capitol had quietly hoped that a budget might be finished by this weekend, but Wednesday seemed to shut the door on that possibility.
For the third consecutive day, the House and Senate remained on different tracks to resolve the 162-day-old stalemate.
And Wolf, during brief public remarks, shed no new light on the situation.
"I'm still working on the budget framework that we've agreed to," he said, referring to an agreement he and Republican leaders had announced before Thanksgiving.
The Senate has already passed major portions of that $30.8 billion framework, and Wednesday moved another piece out of committee: a liquor reform bill.
That legislation, which could receive a full Senate vote Thursday, would allow wine to be purchased in restaurants and grocery stores with the proper license. A committee would also be formed to explore the possibility of leasing wholesale operations currently managed by the state.
Sen. Chuck McIlhinney (R., Bucks) said that Wolf had indicated he would sign off on that plan, but that House Speaker Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) might not. Turzai has previously backed a more aggressive privatization plan.
The other major portion left unresolved by the Senate was a tax plan to support the framework's new spending.
Drew Crompton, the Senate's top Republican lawyer, said GOP leaders were unlikely to unveil a revenue package until it was clear that the House was on board with the framework.
The House gave no such signal Wednesday.
The chamber held a routine voting session, giving no indication of how or when negotiations might continue.
A day earlier, House Republicans had pushed through a less expensive, $30.3 billion spending plan. But the Senate quickly gutted the proposal and amended it to reflect the language of the framework agreement negotiated with Wolf.
Lawmakers close to the situation said some were growing frustrated with Turzai as the House continued to appear in disarray and bogged down by infighting.
Still, both chambers were scheduled to return on Thursday - something a visibly frustrated Wolf hoped would spur momentum to close a deal.
"My message is: Let's get a budget right now," he said.