HARRISBURG -- The state House returned Monday for a brief session of a few hours in Harrisburg -- an unusual break from its summer recess -- to pass the state's fiscal code, a final piece of the commonwealth's budget.
The bill passed mostly along party lines, 103 to 85. Not all 203 House members were present.
The fiscal code had passed the House July 1, but it needed to be passed again after the Senate stripped out a portion quietly inserted by the House saying the Legislature would vote on a payday lending bill by Oct. 31. With that part of the bill taken out by the Senate, the House needed return to the Capitol to pass the bill again.
"I just want to make sure there's nothing else in there, Mike," joked House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, speaking to Majority Leader Mike Turzai during a brief committee meeting before the final vote Monday.
The financial cost of House members returning for the brief session day will not be known for several weeks, said Steve Miskin, a spokesman for Mr. Turzai, R-Bradford Woods. He said it will depend how many members request reimbursements for their travel expenses.
The vote on the code was preceded by little debate, other than brief sniping over whether the passage of the bill after June 30 meant the budget could be considered "late." Republican Gov. Tom Corbett has said he has passed all three budgets on time, in contrast to his predecessor, Democrat Ed Rendell.
Rep. Joe Markosek, D-Monroeville, said the fact that House members were in session was "further proof that the budget is unfinished," speaking before the vote.
The fiscal code "includes language that implements the budget, and without it, money cannot be distributed to certain aspects of state government," he said.
Rep. Bill Adolph, R-Delaware, countered by saying there had been no disruption to state government and no services halted without the code.
Kate Giammarise: firstname.lastname@example.org, 717-787-4254 or on Twitter @KateGiammarise.