Pa. Senate passes spending bill on time, House still deciding

    The Pennsylvania Senate approved the $28.05-billion spending plan on a 37-13 vote.

    The Pennsylvania Senate has passed a spending bill for the fiscal year that begins July 1, setting the stage for a House vote that could come hours before tonight’s midnight budget deadline.

    The Senate approved the $28.05-billion spending plan on a 37-13 vote.

    Among the lawmakers voting no was Democratic Senator Daylin Leach of Montgomery County, who says he’s frustrated the budget doesn’t include more targeted taxes.

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    “We’re not talking about gut-wrenching votes, as the governor said. There’s so much low-hanging fruit for revenues, whether it’s the vendor discount, whether it’s the smokeless tobacco, whether it’s the Marcellus Shale, that we ignored. And as a result, people are going to suffer.”

    Even though a natural gas tax is part of the budget agreement, this year’s plan won’t factor in any revenue from the levy, and lawmakers won’t vote on the proposal until the fall.

    Nearly every department would see its funding trimmed in this budget.

    The Department of Environmental Protection loses $13-million, and the Department of Public Welfare’s budget shrinks by more than $60-million.

    The House is expected to vote on the plan tonight.

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