Final budget stretch starts with major issues unresolved

Written by The Associated Press | Jun 20, 2016 5:39 AM

(AP Photo/Marc Levy)

(Harrisburg)_Democratic Governor Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled Legislature are heading into the final stretch to approve an on-time budget.

The 2016-17 fiscal year begins July 1.

But numerous issues remain outstanding, including how much to spend and whether taxes should go up to pay for it.

The coming two weeks will put in sharp relief whether a spirit of cooperation that's propelled major legislation forward in recent weeks will endure, or whether budget negotiators are simply avoiding tough decisions.

The House is up first to pass a budget package, and Republicans are considering increasing cigarette taxes and expanding casino-style gambling.

But Wolf wants more money for public schools, and Democrats say it'll take more than a cigarette tax increase and a gambling expansion to cover a projected $1.8 billion deficit.

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