PA-BGT: Senate Passes $31.6 Billion Deal
Senate leaders from both parties said their deal would be around $20 million less than the House plan, but the Senate version moves an $88 million bond-funded program out of next year’s budget, Steve Esack of the Morning Call reports.
The Senate’s budget also includes a 2.5%, $40 million increase in higher education funding, which the House flat-funded in their proposal.
If legislative leaders can hash out the differences between the bills, focus will shift to finding new revenue to cover the roughly 5% increase in state spending over 2015-16. While Senate leaders mostly agree with House spending priorities, they have been reluctant to support raising over $1 billion through tobacco taxes, increased sales of wine and liquor and expanded gambling revenues, according to the report.
House Bill 2150 is being considered in the Senate after the House voted 114-85 on Tuesday to allow casinos to run online gambling sites and slot machines at airports and off-track betting parlors. Daily fantasy sports companies like DraftKings and FanDuel would be required to obtain a license to operate in PA under the law.
Even if lawmakers can pass a spending plan and have it signed by the Governor by midnight tonight, an agreement on new revenue will have to wait until after the Fourth of July holiday, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman said.
Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa said Wolf would sign the budget if they can get it to his desk, Matt Maisel and Felix Rodrigues Lima of Fox43 report, though he has criticized the House plan for being unbalanced.
After the Senate voted Wednesday, Gov. Wolf released a statement thanking the chamber for passing a spending plan.
“I would like to thank Senators Scarnati, Corman and Costa, as well as their colleagues for their leadership in passing a budget that invests more money in early childhood, K through 12 and higher education, and also provides vital resources in combating the heroin crisis,” the Governor said. “As the budget moves through the process, I look forward to continuing to engage with the legislature to discuss a sustainable revenue package.”