PA-BGT: Will Harrisburg Come Together for Thanksgiving?
After a slew of closed-door meetings, GOP legislative leaders said there is reason to be optimistic after finding a potential revenue source to make up shortfalls in the budget.
Budget negotiators are looking at sending $600 million in slot-machine gambling money to the state treasury, Marc Levy of the Associated Press reports. Currently, school districts receive gambling revenues, before passing them on to homeowners as property tax breaks.
Jeff Sheridan, spokesman for Gov. Tom Wolf, said there are serious negotiations taking place behind closed doors, and there is a “light at the end of the tunnel.”
On Friday, House Majority Leader Dave Reed told his fellow GOP lawmakers the progress could lead to a budget by Thanksgiving.
Wolf and GOP leaders are still working to find a comprehensive budget agreement, with education funding, a natural gas severance tax, pension reforms and liquor privatization acting as the main obstacles. PA’s budget is now 132 days late.
Wolf has previously offered concessions on pensions and the state’s liquor business, while GOP leaders seem to be thawing to the Governor’s idea of a severance tax.
“We’re not there yet, but for the first time in a while, we seem to have a direction that we’re heading in together,” Sen. Majority Leader Jake Corman said.
The first-year Democratic Governor will not sign a budget that does not include historic increases to education funding, Sheridan said.