2009-08-13 / Local & State

State Workers Get Paychecks

By MARK SCOLFORO ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - About 77,000 Pennsylvania state workers will finally be paid and billions of dollars become available for welfare checks under a partial budget bill Gov. Ed Rendell signed into law Wednesday.

Back-pay checks for state workers are expected to go out by Monday, although the governor said hundreds of state workers also may soon be laid off. Rendell said that number is expected to be between 300 and 800, a figure to be announced Thursday or Friday.

Pennsylvania has gone without a comprehensive 2009-10 spending plan since its new fiscal year began July 1. Rendell and his Democratic allies are fighting to protect state programs, most notably education spending, while Republicans are adamantly opposed to balancing the budget by raising the personal income tax or sales tax rate.

The governor Wednesday used his line-item veto to eliminate nearly $13 billion from an already bare-bones spending plan that passed the state Senate nearly three months ago. In a veto message he sent to the Senate, Rendell called the bill "a deeply flawed piece of legislation'' that "robs the commonwealth and its citizens of future opportunities.''

The $11 billion in spending that survived the governor's veto pen included $5.7 billion for the Department of Public Welfare, $1.6 billion for prisons and nearly $7 million to operate the governor's office.

With the five-week-old state budget impasse expected to continue, Rendell urged legislative negotiators to renew their efforts to come to an agreement. He warned that school districts and local governments are on the verge of running out of money.

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