As the debate surrounding school funding heats up, a state lawmaker is pushing legislation that could expand the city's budget options.

State Rep. Michael McGeehan yesterday attached an amendment to an existing education bill that would essentially allow the city to make a one-time payment to the schools to help ease a budget gap.

Under the state's Act 46, any new funding from the city to the schools must be continued at that level in the future. McGeehan said that this rule is tying local lawmakers' hands.

"If we're filling a one-time gap, the city shouldn't be on the hook for those revenues," said McGeehan, a Democrat from Northeast Philadelphia.

The legislation could receive final passage today in the state House, McGeehan said. Then it would move on to the Senate, where it also needs approval.

If this effort is successful, it could prove a game-changer in how the city deals with helping the school district, which faces a $629 million funding gap in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald yesterday said that the administration needed to review the legislation before providing further comment.