The tumultuous 2009 budget debate has left onlookers longing for closure at the state Capitol. We are about to get just that. For the first week in August, the chamber of the Pennsylvania State Senate will be closed for business.

With all that has unfolded here in recent weeks and all that is left to be done, it may sound unbelievable. It is.

The Republican-led Senate began a 10-day recess on July 30. We are now an entire month past our deadline to put Pennsylvania's financial house in order with a balanced spending plan. Now is not the time for a casual summer break.

Some may argue that the conference committee is meeting, and work is getting done. But there is still so much more to do in order to accomplish the gargantuan task of completing a state budget.

All of this while universities and local school districts wait anxiously to find out how much funding they can expect as the first day of class looms. Veterans are not being admitted to homes; seniors stand to be cut off from county-run "Meals on Wheels" programs; and challenged children face certain disruption in their state-funded learning programs.

I oppose this. It is politics, plain and simple.

Senate Republicans are not thinking about the summer of 2009. They have skipped ahead to November of 2010.

There has been no movement because a late budget gives Republicans something to talk about in the next race for governor. Many point to 1991's infamous and lengthy budget impasse. I remember it well.


Like today, there was an economic downturn demanding we look for thoughtful and creative ways to fund programs.

But the 1991 budget impasse was very different. Back then, there was an acceptance on the part of Republicans that something had to be done to offset the downturn the economy had taken.

Republicans cling to the Personal Income Tax as an excuse for their unwillingness to compromise. Yet, every alternative we have proposed has fallen on deaf ears. Senate Republicans refuse to accept, as they did in 1991 -- and as their Republican counterparts in the House have done this year -- that we must find additional, recurring revenue to offset the $3 billion dollar deficit a failing economy has laid at our doorstep.

As Democratic Leader in the Senate, I have participated in this process under Republican and Democratic governors alike. History has taught us that tough decisions need to be made. Compromise must rule.

I propose we get to work. Nobody here deserves a vacation.

State Senate Democratic Leader Robert J. Mellow rep resents Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe.