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Governor & Others Point To State House As Reason For Budget Stalemate

HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) -- A day in Harrisburg sometimes feels like eternity, especially when trying to get to the bottom of why state lawmakers can't agree on a state budget.

"I think people are working hard towards compromise, and we'll see where it gets us," PA Rep. Mike Turzai, the Republican Speaker of the House, told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.

Turzai is the man whom many in both parties, Republican and Democrat, say is the reason why House Republicans have not yet agreed to the deal Senate Republicans cut with Governor Wolf last week.

Turzai is under pressure from conservative Republicans not to raise taxes much, if at all, to fix the deficit or substantially increase school funding.

"While the governor has come down off his tax increase demands, that's still a significant $1.6 billion tax increase on our constituents," says PA Rep. Jim Christiana of Beaver.

But Senate Republicans and Democrats say some taxes have to go up, and it's too late for Turzai to rewrite the deal.

"I think they understand that what might have worked a few months ago, we're way past that, way past the posturing," notes PA Rep. Joe Markosek of Monroeville who is the Democratic chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

Wolf says House Republican leaders agreed to this framework -- and are now trying to nit-pick it to death.

"The real frustration and the real embarrassment is that this is a budget framework that we agreed to -- the leaders of all four caucuses, Republicans and Democrats and I have agreed to. We did this weeks ago," says Wolf.

Toss into the mix Harrisburg rumors that Turzai could be ousted as Speaker or a growing feud between Turzai and second-in-command PA Rep. Dave Reed of Indiana, the Republican Majority Leader -- and, well, you see a state House that's struggling to get its act together.

But Turzai remains optimistic, citing late passage of a final piece of a Rendell budget.

Turzai: "When Governor Rendell took office in his first year with a Republican legislature, the budget went to December 23rd. That's where it went."
Delano: "You're going to beat that date?"
Turzai: "I think we're going to beat that date."

Lawmakers in both the House and Senate will return to work on Saturday.

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