The final bill related to the 2013-14 Pennsylvania state budget passed Monday as lawmakers made a one-day return to the Capitol caused by a dispute over a payday lending provision.
The main budget bill was passed and signed by Gov. Tom Corbett on June 30, during the final hours of the past fiscal year, and Corbett has repeatedly touted on-time budgets as a major accomplishment of his administration.
Democrats said the fiscal code bill, which passed 103-85 on Monday, with a single Republican voting "no,'' was a critical part of the budget.
"We're 15 days late and probably a billion dollars short of what this budget really should be,'' said Rep. Joe Markosek of Allegheny County, the ranking Democrat on the powerful Appropriations Committee. "The fact that we are back here today, July 15, to address the fiscal code is just further proof that the budget is unfinished.''
Markosek said there was "no excuse for the budget to be late,'' given Republican control of both chambers and the governorship.
"It's time to 'fess up,'' Markosek said during a brief floor debate. "You're late. The budget is not on time. This budget is 15 days late.''
The fiscal code was changed by the Senate on July 3 to remove a sentence that said the House and Senate Republican leadership intended to pass Consumer Discount Company Act legislation by the end of October.
The fiscal code helps direct spending in the state, and this year's version contained the House-penned provision designed to help the financially struggling Philadelphia school system.
"We are pleased that the Pennsylvania House of Representatives finalized a critical component of the budget process today," wrote Philadelphia School Superintendent William Hite. "As we have stated throughout this process, much more work remains in order to ensure sufficient recurring funds and affordable spending levels that will allow us to provide all students with a safe, high-quality education. We are committed to continuing our work with elected officials and our labor partners to direct every possible dollar to students and classrooms.”
State budget officials said passage of the fiscal code was needed to avoid a host of negative effects on state government.