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Pennsylvania lawmakers aim to fill virus-inflicted deficit

With state budget due at the end of November, Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward talked about ongoing discussions on the FOX43 Capitol Beat

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s state Legislature is working this week to assemble a spending plan to carry state government through the rest of the fiscal year and fill a multibillion-dollar deficit brought on by the impact of the coronavirus. 

House officials say closed-door talks may produce a draft of legislation Wednesday, with final votes possible Thursday. Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, has asked the Republican-controlled Legislature for another nearly $10 billion in spending to round out the fiscal year. That's after the Legislature approved a piecemeal, no-new-taxes $25.8 billion budget in May. 

Wolf’s administration says it's seeking federal budget aid, while state lawmakers say they're not considering any tax increases. 

RELATED: Wolf signs $25.75 billion budget he says will sustain education funding and support communities during COVID-19 pandemic

Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward joined FOX43's Matt Maisel on the FOX43 Capitol Beat on Thursday to discuss the ongoing negotiations. Ward, of Westmoreland County, was recently elected by fellow senators as Senate Majority Leader. She is the first woman chosen as a floor leader in Pennsylvania history.  

RELATED: State health officials give update on testing and contact tracing

Ward also discussed the Republican legislature's response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Pennsylvania. On Wednesday, a record 6,339 additional positive cases were announced in the commonwealth, bringing the statewide total-to-date of over 281,000. As of Tuesday night, 9,465 Pennsylvanians have died as a result of COVID-19.

Ward will begin her fourth term in January as State Senator of the 39th District. Prior to her election as Majority Leader, Ward served as Senate Republican Caucus Administrator and Chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Committee. She was elected in 2008 as the first woman elected to the seat. Prior to joining the state Senate, she was a Westmoreland County Commissioner.