"Payless payday" for Pa. state workers

July 31, 2009 3:16:26 PM PDT
The pressure is rising on Pennsylvania lawmakers to break the budget impasse.That's because Friday is a "payless payday" for thousands of state workers, and they're not happy about it.

After a month of partial pay, some 33,000 workers found nothing in their bank accounts Friday, but they still had to show up for work.

Officials say, once a budget it passed, the workers will be compensated for any missed paychecks. That seems to be small comfort as checking accounts dwindle and the budget stalemate continues.

At the state building in Philadelphia, people were furious.

"Very angry! We're coming here every day, we're working, 110% we're giving, and no paycheck," said state worker Mary-Jo Rossider.

Over the last month, Action News has been there during state worker rallies as Democrats and Republicans in Harrisburg have been battling over the budget. Both sides believe in trimming spending, but Republicans have refused a tax hike that Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, says is needed to support state programs.

Top legislators say a private meeting with Gov. Ed Rendell to resolve Pennsylvania's month-old state budget standoff was productive, but they reached no agreement.

Talks at the governor's official residence in Harrisburg went 90 minutes Friday, as 33,000 state employees missed paychecks because of the standoff.

Rendell says he is willing to sign a skeleton budget bill to pay state workers and operate government offices while negotiations continue.

But that would leave in limbo billions of dollars for schools, child care and other services.

Also Friday, the Department of Public Welfare says it starting to get reports that children of low-income families are losing their subsidized spots in child care centers because the budget dispute has halted money for the program.

Department spokeswoman Stacey Witalec says the agency is investigating.

Associated Press reproter Mark Scolforo contributed to this report.

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