The fiscal code is the less ballyhooed part of the state's budget deliberations each year. But it's actually the engine that fuels the budget. It determines how the budget is spent.
One thing it won't be spent on is a state police aviation unit for the Williamsport Regional Airport.
After an amendment he crafted to restore the unit failed, state Rep. Rick Mirabito, a Williamsport Democrat, voted against the fiscal code. Mirabito also was displeased with education funding in the budget and the transfer of $100 million of slot machine license fees from the state gaming fund, which affects property tax relief, to the general fund to balance the budget.
State Representative Michael K. Hanna, a Lock Haven Democrat, also voted against the fiscal code.
Mirabito's local colleagues agree with him regarding restoration of the aviation unit but most of them didn't think it was a dealbreaker for the entire fiscal code.
State Sen. E. Eugene Yaw, a Loyalsock Township Republican, said getting the unit back is a long shot for practical reasons. The state has reduced the number of aviation units from seven to five and the number may be reduced again, so the chances of a small rural airport such as Williamsport keeping the unit are slim.
Budget votes are tricky stuff, because it is inevitable that the budget won't include everything our representatives and their constituents want and will include some items that are unwanted here. The issue becomes whether a spending plan, on balance, includes most of what is desirable locally.
In the case of this particular budget, the state's public education allocations are greater than what was allocated during the Rendell administration. The budget also includes some positive health and welfare components and funds 290 new state troopers, according to Rep. Matthew E. Baker, a Wellsboro Republican who is the state health chairman.
We wish the budget had included privatization of the liquor store system, a problem-solving transportation plan and pension reform. It doesn't.
But the budget itself is a sound, fiscally responsible plan that, on balance, deserves approval.