By: Eric Boehm | PA Independent
HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Corbett proudly announced the passage of Pennsylvania’s second consecutive on-time budget a few minutes before midnight on Saturday.
Turns out, this on-time budget might need a footnote.
Two important components of the overall budget package – the tax code bill and the fiscal code bill – were left unsigned until Monday morning, according to a news release from the governor’s office on Tuesday.
The tax code sets up the revenue system for the new fiscal year, while the fiscal code gives direction as to how revenue moves through various departments and agencies. They are distinct from the actual budget bill – known as the general appropriations bill – which sets out how the dollars are to be spent.
The fact that those bills were not signed until Monday does not affect the state’s ability to operate, but it does matter to Corbett and his critics. One of Corbett’s major campaign promises in 2010 was to deliver on-time state budgets in the wake of eight years of late budgets under then-Gov. Ed Rendell.
“Governor Corbett can make no claims that he delivered an on-time budget in 2012,” said Bill Patton, spokesman for House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny. “He was, in fact, two days late.”
Asked about the apparent discrepancy at a news conference Tuesday, Corbett said he did not sign the budget bill until both state House and state Senate had passed the two code bills late on Saturday night.
Asked by reporters last week about the on-time budget promise, Corbett said all the bills had to be finished before the June 30 deadline.
On Tuesday, he explained that he was waiting for the code bills to pass so they couldn’t be changed after he signed the budget bill into law.