State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Pa. legislature still stuck on spending bill

Written by Katie Meyer | Jul 6, 2016 6:00 AM

State House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, speaks to reporters in the state Capitol about negotiations on a tax package to close out budget negotiations, Friday, July 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Marc Levy)

(Harrisburg) -- After a day of closed-door negotiations, party leaders seem no closer to a state budget agreement than they were when they left the Capitol last Friday.

They remain hung up on how to raise the more than $1 billion needed to pay for proposed spending increases.

House GOP spokesman Steven Miskin said his caucus has laid out a "menu of options" it can support.

But, he says that does not include the gross receipts tax on natural gas proposed by Democrats.

"Taxing people should be the absolute last thing you think of," Miskin said. "It should never, ever, ever be first."

Republicans favor a revenue plan based largely on loosened gambling restrictions, higher tobacco taxes, back taxes from tax delinquents, and wine and liquor sales.

Governor Tom Wolf said he feels "optimistic" that an agreement will come soon.

"It's July 5th, I'm meeting with leaders from both parties, and the legislature will come back into session once we've agreed on how we need to proceed," he said.

Still, Wolf and the rest of the legislature are up against the clock.

If the governor doesn't sign, veto, or change the $31.5 billion budget proposal by midnight next Monday, it automatically becomes law without his approval.

Miskin said the legislature is united in aiming for that deadline.

"We do hope to get this resolved," he said. "Everybody hopes to come to an agreement before this week is out, so that we can send revenues to the governor and he can sign the bill. In full."

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