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State rep. renews call for mediator to end budget impasse

Greg Gross
505-5433/@ggrossyd

A lawmaker from Philadephia has renewed her call for a third-party mediator be brought in to end the 8-month-old state budget impasse.

Rep. Pam DeLissio, D-Philadelphia

Democratic state Rep. Pam DeLissio most recently renewed her efforts during a budget hearing by the House Appropriations Committee last week.

She has made pleas for mediation since just a few months after the impasse started at the start of July.

"My recommendation for mediation was sent to the governor and House leaders before Thanksgiving," she said in December.

Lawmakers inched closer to ending the impasse Wednesday when they sent to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf a spending package to complete the $30 billion spending plan. Wolf signed a $23.4 billion partial budget in December.

Wolf said he intends to veto the latest spending plan on his desk.

Mediation: Rep. Keith Gillespie, R-Hellam Township, said he's open to the idea of having a mediator hash out the remaining parts of the budget.

"I would be open to anything at this point," he said.

Sen. Pat Vance, R-Cumberland and York counties, said its a good idea but the work lies with lawmakers.

"I don't think it's needed. We're supposed to be elected officials" who can work this out, she said. "It's embrassing not to have everything done. We owe the people better than this."

But, Gillespie added, there's another option to end the impasse: That Wolf not pick up his pen. If that happens, the spending package would automatically become law.

"Hopefully, it (Wolf's pen) will remain inactive for 10 days and it becomes law," Gillespie said.

Gillespie said he wants to see the impasse end as much as everyone. In October, he started to forgo his pay until it ends. A few other lawmakers did the same but some started collecting their pay after the partial budget was signed.

"Whether I take a paycheck next month, I don't know," he said.

Previous efforts: DeLissio isn't the first person to pick the idea to have a mediator bring the two sides together.

In September, then York County Commissioner Steve Chronister proposed a bipartisan mediation team.

The team would have been led by a former U.S. congressman and would have brought Republican and Democratic state lawmakers and Wolf's office to the table, along with county commissioner representatives and business leaders from across the state.

But state government officials didn't take him up on the idea.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.