Pa. lawmakers could pass spending plan by deadline, but revenue likely to take longer

     Gov. Tom Wolf says budget negotiations are going well, though he didn't offer many specifics. (AP file photo)

    Gov. Tom Wolf says budget negotiations are going well, though he didn't offer many specifics. (AP file photo)

    Pennsylvania lawmakers are keeping any progress they’re making on budget negotiations close to the vest. But one thing is becoming increasingly clear — the process could very well look just like last year’s.

    In 2016, the GOP-controlled chambers sent Gov. Tom Wolf a spending plan by the June 30 deadline, then sent a measure detailing how to pay for it two weeks later.

    Wolf let it become law without his signature.

    A spokeswoman for the Senate GOP said the caucus hopes to finish both portions of the budget by Friday. But if there’s no agreement on revenue by then, they at least intend to get the spending plan to Wolf by Friday.

    That would set the governor up for a repeat of last year’s tricky situation.

    “I don’t know what I would do in this case,” he said. “You know what I did last year. But we’ll see when it comes and if it looks like we’re making progress, that’ll be one thing. If it looks like we’re not making progress, that’ll be another.”

    Senate Democratic leader Jay Costa said, at this point, it doesn’t seem possible to have the full budget done on time.

    “I just think there’s not enough time to do all that. My expectation is we’ll be here after June 30 doing cleanup stuff,” he said.

    Republicans in both chambers say they’re close to an agreement on a spending number— likely around $31.8 billion, which is significantly lower than Wolf’s $32.3 billion proposal.

    If the figure holds, Costa said, it would involve cuts to many state services. But, he noted, his caucus doesn’t have the legislative power to stop it.

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