Pennsylvania to begin fiscal year without a budget

Pennsylvania State Capitol building

Pennsylvania State Capitol building in Harrisburg, Pa. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

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Pennsylvania’s new fiscal year will begin without a state budget in place, as Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration and top Republican lawmakers planned to work through Thursday’s deadline to hammer out a roughly $42 billion spending plan whose details were still largely being kept secret.

Negotiators have yet to fully brief rank-and-file lawmakers on any sort of agreement or publish the details of hundreds of pages of budget-related legislation that typically underpin such a spending plan.

Without new budget legislation signed into law by Friday, the state will lose the authority to make some payments, although a stalemate must typically last several weeks before any effect on services is felt.

Negotiations in closed-door talks revolve around a substantial amount of new aid for public schools — albeit under half the amount Wolf sought in his February budget proposal — and various concessions by the Democratic governor to Republican lawmakers who control the Legislature.

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New aid for public schools will land around $800 million, or about 9% more. That is short of the almost $1.8 billion more that Wolf had initially requested for instruction, school operations and special education.

The new aid will include substantial sums for school security upgrades and school counselors or psychiatrists.

In exchange, Republican lawmakers sought concessions on various policy goals that Wolf had unilaterally pursued over Republican objections.

Those include Wolf’s plan to toll up to nine interstate bridges and subject charter schools to stronger ethics, accounting and admissions standards. Republicans also pressed for an agreement on legislation that would restrict third-party funding of elections.

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