- The House of Representatives began leaving its imprint on the Senate's expansive package of budget-related legislation last night, signaling the start of a contentious new week and another new showdown over how to end the state government's five-month-old budget stalemate.
Pressure to resolve the fight has ratcheted up amid layoffs and closings by a social services sector increasingly crippled without billions in state aid and mounting borrowing by school districts and counties that could exceed $1 billion soon, if it has not already.
Last night, Gov. Wolf's office and House leaders said they were still sorting through hundreds of pages of legislation sent by the Republican-controlled Senate last week in a weeklong sprint to advance a $30.8 billion budget plan.
House leaders stressed that they hoped to wrap up a budget deal this week. After a brief night session, the House will return today.
But both Republicans and Democrats, along with Wolf's office, are still raising problems with elements of the Senate legislation that, among other things, overhauls public pension benefits, smashes state control over the sale of wine and advances the cause of charter schools.
"We know we've got to get a budget passed," said House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny, after leaving a meeting with Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana. "And we're looking forward to getting it done this week."
The broad outlines of the Senate's spending bill are supported by Wolf and House Democrats. It would be accompanied by a $1.2 billion tax increase, the details of which have not been settled or written into legislation.