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Budget deal unlikely before September

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(The Center Square) — Both chambers of the General Assembly officially left Harrisburg for the summer — an ominous sign that the bipartisan wound won’t heal anytime soon.

The development comes nearly two weeks after the Senate recessed until mid-September, furious over Gov. Josh Shapiro’s default on a $45.5 billion budget deal — complete with a new $100 million school choice program he helped draft — amid resistance from Democratic leadership in the House.

Shapiro told reporters last week that Republican leadership in the Senate moved forward with the spending plan before securing an agreement with the lower chamber — a strategy with which he disagreed. He encouraged both sides to find a solution amongst themselves.

In the following days, blame flew from each chamber. In one corner, the Senate said the governor negotiated with them in bad faith after he sided with his party and said he’d line-item veto the school choice program. In the other corner, House lawmakers derided the upper chamber for adjourning session before signing the spending bill — and a few other agreed-to proposals — so it could proceed to Shapiro’s desk.

On Wednesday, the House released a memo indicating it would not return to Harrisburg before Sept. 26. Barring any breakthrough in negotiations, the departure means the budget will — at best — be just three months late.

Without a new plan in place, funding will eventually dry up – leaving school districts, county agencies and scores of other programs unable to operate.

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