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Pennsylvania still has no budget passed, six days past official deadline

The deadline to pass the 2022-23 budget was June 30.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Six days past the official deadline, Pennsylvania state lawmakers are still working on a deal to pass a roughly $42 billion budget.

The main sticking point is a problem of riches; lawmakers disagree on how to spend the state’s historic $6.22 billion tax revenue surplus.

Governor Tom Wolf and Democrats are calling for a $1.9 billion spending increase on education programs ranging from Pre-K through college.

Republicans want to save the money to offset potential future budget shortfalls, especially given that the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office predicts the state will take in $5.83 billion less in tax revenue next year.

“We need to position Pennsylvania to manage the economic headwinds before us, create a business climate that helps our employers expand and grow jobs, and provides relief for Pennsylvanians in the form of tax credits and investments,” Senate Republican spokesperson Erica Clayton Wright wrote in a statement.

Another issue has formed around a poison pill amendment to the budget passed by House Republicans, which makes funding for four state-related universities dependent on the University of Pittsburgh stopping all fetal tissue research.

Democrats are pushing to the pass the funding without restrictions.

“The most important thing is the product that is produced, but I would lying if I didn’t say that I am frustrated. This has gone on too long,” said State Rep. Matt Bradford (D-Montgomery), who serves as Democratic Chairman of the House Appropriates Committee. “We wasted the better part of a week with abortion politics and interjecting the funding of Pitt into what should have been pretty much and up-and-down vote to support our state universities.”

In a divided government where the governor is a Democrat and both chambers are controlled by Republicans, a compromise is likely. Republican leaders in both the House and Senate have signaled they’re willing to allocate a portion of Gov. Wolf’s school funding request.

A weeklong delay likely won’t affect state payments, but a longer-term stalemate could. A budget impasse in 2015 led to the short-term closure of some Pre-K programs and state-funded domestic violence shelters.

Leaders in both parties remained tight lipped about negotiation specifics on Wednesday, but said they hoped to pass the budget by Thursday.

“We continue to make steady, positive progress on finalizing the state budget. We anticipate being in a position to complete the legislative process of passing the budget and associated legislation in short order,” House Republican spokesperson Jason Gottesman wrote in a statement.

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