Pa. Senate leaders consider revenue strategies

    The Capitol building in Harrisburg is buzzing with talk of tax increases, but, so far, there’s nothing public in writing.

    As the House voted in favor of a $29.1 billion spending plan, Republican Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi said his members have discussed new taxes to close Pennsylvania’s $1.4 billion budget deficit.

    “We have had a number of caucuses touching on that — not an in-depth caucus,” he said. “This week we’ll have that conversation.”

    Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa says cross-party talks have covered a cigarette tax and a Marcellus Shale extraction tax.

    “We don’t have anything right now,” he said. “But there’s a belief that we’re moving in that direction, and I think there’s an acknowledgment that that’s the only revenue generator we will be able to do.”

    The House Republican majority remains ostensibly opposed to any new tax.

    Gov. Tom Corbett wouldn’t comment Wednesday on the likelihood of tax increases, but said he’s holding out for movement on an overhaul of public pension benefits.

    Senate Republicans are talking about such a plan, according to Costa, because the House GOP is coming up short on votes for a pension bill.

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