More details emerge as Pennsylvania budget talks narrow gaps

Written by The Associated Press | Nov 9, 2015 4:38 PM

(Harrisburg) -- Negotiators are finding common ground on some major issues in the fifth month of Pennsylvania's budget stalemate, but others remain unresolved and many details are still fuzzy. 

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman cautioned Monday that there's no final agreement between Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and lawmakers until everything is settled.

Some preliminary details include a budget in excess of $30.7 billion, boosted by slot-machine gambling revenue that currently is passed along to homeowners as school property tax cuts. That money for property tax cuts would be replaced by a sales tax increase of about $2 billion to 7.25 percent.

Schools would get hundreds of millions of new dollars. A deal would not include a new tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas production, but a cigarette tax increase is under discussion.

An earlier story is below:

Discussion about a budget in Pennsylvania is bringing Senate Republicans to the Capitol for a closed-door meeting as negotiators say they're close to an agreement on the broad outlines.

Republican senators began meeting in private Monday afternoon. The momentum of talks picked up last week.

One key development is the identification of a source of money to prop up the budget by diverting slot-machine gambling revenue into the state treasury.

Negotiators are discussing an increase in the state sales tax to offset reductions in local school property taxes, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in new public school aid.

Discussions also include tougher restrictions on school property tax increases. It appears unlikely a deal will include a tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas production sought by Gov. Tom Wolf.

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