House leader says budget negotiations within "hundreds of millions of dollars"

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jun 23, 2016 7:50 PM

(Harrisburg) -- The state budget deadline is creeping closer.

But this time, Governor Tom Wolf and legislative leaders are optimistic their work will be done close to on time.

First, both sides point to compromises.

Wolf's office says he's holding off on broad-based sales and income tax increases, has reduced his spending request by well over $1 billion, and agreed to pension and liquor changes.

GOP House Majority Leader Dave Reed says those changes were compromises from other pieces he wanted, and his caucus is supporting a boost in education funding.

He says negotiators are closer on a final spending number.

"You know, I think it's not just us and the governor, it's all five parties. I think we're within hundreds of millions of dollars of each other, and if you look at it where we were last year at this time, we were billions of dollars apart," says Reed.

Reed adds: "We are making every effort. We've had several meetings already today. They will continue throughout today until we're done. Hopefully lock down that number and get everything else moving with it."

There are signs that the mood is better this year among leaders.

In fact, Wolf and House Speaker Mike Turzai were even laughing with each other about the budget during an unrelated press conference.

Reed says last year's budget crisis that forced schools and nonprofits to take on tens of millions of dollars in interest costs was a lesson for legislators.

Published in News

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