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PA-BGT: Mission Impossible?

wolf-budget addressWith budget negotiations teetering on the edge of collapse, Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican legislative leaders again assured reporters on Tuesday night there would be a deal.

“We’re very comfortable and optimistic that we can have this done in short order next week,” Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman said after a meeting with the first-year Democratic Governor, Chris Comisac and Kevin Zwick of Capitolwire report. “Right now, we’re on track with the framework we agreed to.”

That framework – agreed to two weeks ago – included a “historic” $350 million investment in basic education, as well as a large chunk of the taxes Wolf was seeking.

It is unclear where the money will now come from as broad-based tax increase is no longer expected in the deal. Property tax relief is also off the table, after a proposal to eliminate statewide school taxes failed by a single vote in the Senate.

A collapse in the agreement seemed imminent after Republicans in the State Senate explored the idea of overriding Wolf’s veto of a 4-month, $11 billion short-term spending plan at the end of September.

A month ago, Senate GOP members tried to override the veto but failed with all 19 Democrats voting against the move. Guy Reschenthaler was sworn in Tuesday to fill the vacant 37th District seat, giving Republicans another vote in the state’s upper chamber.

Wolf spokesman Jeff Sheridan told reporters negotiations would continue over the next few days. The Governor has set a new deadline of next Friday, Sheridan said.

“As we have said, Republican leaders communicated directly to Gov. Wolf late last week that they do not have the votes for the framework they agreed to with the governor and stood with him to announce,” Sheridan said. “Tonight’s latest theatrics are just an outgrowth of that.”

GOP leaders were short on details Tuesday but said they plan to start “moving budget bills reflecting the framework” next week. Negotiators had been aiming to end the stalemate by Thanksgiving.

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