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Votes Signal Breakthrough In Budget Stalemate

Matt Rourke


There are signs of a potential breakthrough in Pennsylvania's budget stalemate just three days before Christmas.

The House of Representatives defied Republican majority leaders Tuesday and narrowly sent a bipartisan spending bill over a key procedural hurdle.

The bill has Gov. Tom Wolf's backing to end a nearly six-month stalemate. The spending bill's already passed the Republican-controlled Senate and the House could send it to Wolf's desk as early as Wednesday.

The main appropriations bill in a $30.8 billion spending package survived a series of procedural votes. Moderate Republicans joined Democrats to form a 100-97 majority on the final vote.

The parliamentary maneuvers also defeated GOP leadership's short-term spending proposal that Wolf had threatened to veto.

However, other major elements of the bipartisan budget deal remain in limbo, including legislation restructuring pension benefits and authorizing a $1 billion-plus tax increase.

Earlier in the day, Gov. Tom Wolf told state House members a stopgap budget under consideration would prompt 8,000 furloughs and deep cuts to government programs.

He sent a letter Tuesday vowing to veto a temporary spending measure, calling it a retreat from a budget deal he negotiated with legislative leaders.

Republicans who control the House are considering a stopgap after voting down a pension bill this weekend that was a critical element of the budget deal.

The Democratic governor says in the letter the furloughs would include 4,000 people who work for the prison system or probation and parole officers, nearly 1,300 state police employees and nearly 1,000 human services workers.

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