Pa. Budget talks continue past midnight, as lawmakers near deal

    Legislative leaders negotiated a budget until nearly 3 a.m. this morning.

    Legislative leaders negotiated a budget until nearly 3 a.m. this morning.

    House Speaker Keith McCall (D- Carbon County) says they’ve reached an agreement, but Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R- Chester and Delaware counties) says more details need to be hammered out.

    Lawmakers are in a race against the clock to pass a budget by June 30th.

    The timeline is more than cosmetic – Pileggi says many of the concessions Senate Republicans are making will be taken off the table if the spending plan isn’t finalized before July.

    Democratic and Republican leaders holed up in offices on opposite sides of the Capitol last night, and engaged in what Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati called “shuttle diplomacy.”

    Pileggi says talks will resume around 9 a.m.

    “The major outline of this agreement is in place, but the details are important, because, as we said from the beginning, unless all of the components of the outline are agreed to, then none of the components are agreed to.”

    The budget includes an increase for basic education spending.

    It also calls for a natural gas severance tax, though lawmakers say the levy would be passed as a separate measure later this year.

    House Speaker McCall  says the budget includes $850 million in federal medical assistance that still hasn’t cleared Congress.

    “We’re hoping that it is addressed. We understand that FMAP is – it certainly is a concern, but there are other issues tied to FMAP, that it may be taken up separately. So we have time to digest what the federal government does, be it $400 million, $600 million or the full $850 million. We don’t know yet.”

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