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PA House Passes Budget Plan; Bill Now Heads To Senate

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) -- The state House has taken a significant step toward finishing the commonwealth's $32.7 billion budget plan ahead of next week's deadline--passing the measure on to the Senate in a near-unanimous vote.

The deal is on track to be the first on-time budget of Governor Tom Wolf's tenure.

The proposal was negotiated by House and Senate leaders and the governor, and until this week, the process happened almost entirely behind closed doors.

Rank-and-file House members got on board with little complaint--passing the measure 188 to 10.

Thanks to strong revenues this year and healthy projections next, lawmakers were able to balance their spending plan using only expected income and internal transfers and--as GOP Appropriations Chair Stan Saylor pointedly noted on the House floor, "no tax increases and no fee increases."

The plan increases spending about two percent over this year--or around $700 million.

Much of that goes toward pension obligations, social programs, and public education--including a new $60 million off-budget fund for school safety.

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill Friday.

Still to be tackled are a number of measures--known as code bills--that give specific instructions on how certain dollars should be spent.

This year, lawmakers will need three: education, welfare, and fiscal codes. They aren't finished yet, but legislative leaders expressed optimism they might pass alongside the larger budget plan.

As of now, Senators are scheduled to be in session for the rest of this week and next, though that is subject to change.

House Speaker Mike Turzai said the House will "definitely" be in Harrisburg for the rest of this week and at least Monday--though they won't work through the weekend.