The PA State Senate will begin considering a $31.55 billion budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year after the House of Representatives voted Tuesday evening to pass a 4.8% spending increase.
The budget vehicle legislation, Senate Bill 1073, passed by a 132-68 vote just 20 hours after an omnibus amendment was adopted by the House Appropriations Committee. A motion was approved to bypass the rule requiring 24 hours for consideration.
The budget plan increases total spending for pre-K to 12th grade education by $250 million, and the state will meet its burgeoning pension obligations without raising income or sales taxes.
The deal still relies on an increased tax on tobacco products and new revenue from liquor privatization and expanded gaming in PA.
Also on Tuesday, the House passed House Bill 2150 – by a 114-85 vote – allowing casinos to operate online gambling sites and slot machines at airports and off-track betting parlors, while requiring licensure of daily sports fantasy sites.
Gov. Tom Wolf indicated just before the vote in the House that he didn’t fully support the deal because it doesn’t raise enough revenue to balance the budget, though he seemed confident the necessary changes can still be made.
“I haven’t agreed to this, and as far as I can tell, there’s still some things to be worked out,” Wolf told KQV-AM.
Lawmakers have until the end of Thursday to pass a budget for the 2016-17 fiscal term and avoid a repeat of last year.