PA-BGT: Wolf Will Sign $31.6 Billion Plan

Wolf-Stack-TurzaiHaving not enacted a budget until nine months after the June 30th deadline last time around, state lawmakers have now passed two in the last three-and-a-half months.

On Thursday night, the PA House of Representatives voted 144-54 to concur with the Senate’s changes to SB1073, to send a final spending plan to Gov. Tom Wolf by the midnight deadline and end of the 2015-16 fiscal year.

The Senate added $40 million in higher education aid to the House’s plans to increase basic education funding by $200 million and early childhood and special education programs by $50 million. In total, the 2016-17 budget contains a 6%, $665.2 million increase in education funding from pre-K to higher education, Steve Esack of the Morning Call reports.

The Senate also transferred a $95 million bond-funded program out of next year’s budget, according to the report.

Under the plan, the Wolf administration will get $15 million to fight the heroin and opioid epidemic in PA.

“I want to commend leaders and members in both chambers for passing a bipartisan, compromise budget that invests more money in early childhood, K through 12 and higher education, and also provides vital resources to combat the heroin crisis,” Wolf said in a statement Thursday night. “I am pleased that working together we took this important step to move the commonwealth forward.”

Wolf said he would sign the $31.62 billion general appropriations bill approved by the legislature “as soon as there is a sustainable revenue package to pay for it.”

Lawmakers are looking for roughly $1 billion in new revenue to balance the spending plan through taxes on tobacco products, increased liquor and wine sales and expanded gambling revenues, though not all of the measures have widespread support.

“Sin taxes, that’s how we are going to pay for this,” Rep. Jerry Knowles said. “I’m not really sure how we are voting on a spending bill before we know how to pay for it.”

7 Responses

  1. If taxing sin, the GOP should be assessed the $1 Billion for their sinful attempts at repressing the vote and causing suffering to students, teachers, and poor people.

  2. The hard decisions involve looking behind the “quick fixes” like encouraging more gambling and smoking to solve our state financial problems. Raising taxes is not wrong every time as California has proven in recent years where they are putting money away this fiscal year for a “rainy day” with actual surpluses..while we focus on sin taxes and hope folks gamble and smoke enough to pay for the budget.

  3. Just more money for the Zappala Crime Family’s ‘family businesses…gambling and prostitution…buying sellout hoes in the legislature.

  4. Tim what do you have against balancing the budget on the backs of compulsive gamblers and people who’ve rather play the numbers than sock money into their IRA???

  5. Oh Great! Online Gambling for all of the Compulsive Gamblers In The State! What a way to raise revenue!

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