PA's Budget Writers Will Likely Miss Tonight's Deadline

Jul 10, 2017

HARRISBURG (WSKG) - Lawmakers say they probably won't get the budget done by Monday night, which means that an unbalanced spending plan will automatically become law unless Governor Tom Wolf vetoes all or part of it. 

Credit Katie Meyer

The budget was due June 30. The House and Senate sent a spending plan to Wolf's desk that day, but still haven't found the revenue to balance it.

Republican leaders said Sunday night that they'd sent a compromise plan to Wolf that afternoon, but he rejected it.

Senate GOP Leader Jake Corman didn't give many details on the revenue proposal Wolf got, but he did say it included a new tier of mini-casinos and expanded liquor sales to some degree.

It didn't legalize video gaming terminals in bars, however. That's an option the House has strongly favored.

"This isn't perfect, by any stretch," Corman said of the plan. "But if that's what we can get votes for, that's what we should do."

However, Corman said Wolf didn't think the plan included enough real, recurring revenue.

The budget hole lawmakers are attempting to fill is over $2 billion. Roughly a $1.5 billion of that will probably be filled by borrowing money. Corman said the Republicans and Wolf remain a few hundred million dollars apart on how to pay for the rest.

House GOP leader Dave Reed said his caucus isn't willing to compromise much further.

"You know, the administration has consistently said they need more revenue than some of the options that we've provided, and we've basically--at least from a House perspective--reached the extent of what we're willing to offer," he said.

A spokesman for Wolf wouldn't comment on the specifics of the Republican proposal. He also didn't say what Wolf will do if Monday's midnight deadline comes and goes without an agreement.

Last year, Wolf allowed an unbalanced plan to lapse into law without his signature. That's a move many--including Reed--have said is in constitutionally dubious territory.

Reed indicated Wolf isn't taking an active role in negotiating an agreement.

"He's the governor," Reed said Sunday afternoon. "He's the leader of this state. He's yet to sign a budget. I think it's time for him to step up and be a leader in some regard."

Corman said that although there's not enough time to get all the budget components passed before the deadline, his chamber plans to stay in session until it's done.