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Politics & Government

Plan To Pay For $31.6 Bil Budget Still Unclear

Gov. Tom Wolf

In this year’s budget negotiations, state legislators seem eager to show their constituents that last year’s nine-month deadlock is behind them.

After receiving the House’s nearly $31.6 billion spending plan Wednesday, the Senate quickly passed its general appropriations in a bipartisan vote, just a day before the Thursday deadline.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair, Republican Patrick Browne, said the Senate proposal contains only minor changes, notably adding money for higher education.

“We’re making tremendous investments in education—in the broad spectrum of education, not just basic education and early education, but also for education for children with special needs and higher education,” Browne said.

The revised bill goes back to the House Thursday for reconsideration.

Senate leaders said they’re hopeful Gov.  Tom Wolf will sign off on the budget very soon. And Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa confirmed that they have “been engaged in constant conversations” with the governor’s office.

However, there’s still no word on how any of this will be paid for moving forward.

Neither the House nor Senate has any concrete revenue plan. And Senate leaders, like Costa, are close-lipped about their ideas.

“We have a number of ideas that have been floated out there for the past year and a half, so we will go back and examine that,” Costa said. “But our highest priority was to get a general appropriation budget done, now we’re going to go on to step two and figure out exactly how we’re going to achieve those revenues.”

In the House’s budget proposal, higher tobacco taxes and loosened gambling restrictions are part of the revenue plan.