Pa. Senate passes budget bill

    The Pennsylvania Senate has taken quick action on the House’s just-passed budget bill, even though there’s no clear resolution on how to pay for it a day before the state government’s fiscal-year deadline.

    The Senate on Wednesday passed the main appropriations bill in the $31.6 billion package, 47-3, with minor changes a day after the House passed it.

    The state government’s 2016-17 fiscal-year starts Friday.

    It is a 5 percent spending increase, about half what Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf proposed initially. The new spending is driven by more money for public schools, pension obligations, prisons and human services.

    But Wolf says the House’s plan to balance it is badly flawed. It’s also not clear whether the Senate will support the House’s strategy to raise $1 billion from higher tobacco taxes, brisker wine and liquor sales, more legalized gambling and tax delinquents.

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