HARRISBURG - Calling himself "the eternal optimist," Gov. Wolf predicted Thursday that Pennsylvania will have a signed budget well before Christmas.
But the Democratic governor shied away from divulging any new details on how he and the Republican-controlled legislature plan to raise new dollars to pay for the substantial funding boost for public schools that is part of their tentative deal.
"We are almost there," Wolf said on KDKA-AM in Pittsburgh on Thursday morning, later adding: "I'm very confident."
"Much sooner than that," the governor said. "That would be my bet."
The legislature has scheduled voting sessions through the weekend, a signal it is preparing to jam through votes on the tentative agreement that both Wolf and legislative leaders have only described in the broadest of terms.
The deal pledges $350 million in new money for public schools, $50 million for special education, and $60 million for early childhood education. Some of that would be raised by expanding the list of goods and services subject to the state's 6 percent sales tax - although how much and which services apparently remains a state secret.
Wolf sidestepped a question Thursday about talk in the Capitol that the sides are eyeing extending the sales tax to museum and symphony tickets, amusement parks, and golf courses.
"There will be some broadening of the base," Wolf would only say.
The first-term governor has abandoned, at least for now, his proposal to raise money for property-tax relief for all school districts through a sales-tax hike. Also left on the cutting room floor: the governor's proposal to impose a new tax on natural gas drillers.
Wolf said he planned on pushing those two issues again in his next budget, which he will introduce in a mere two months.
The state has been operating without a budget since July 1.