The legislature is crawling closer to finishing its nearly four-months-late state budget — with the House and Senate both saying they’re aiming to finalize a plan based mostly on borrowing this week.
“It’s been a long three months, so hopefully there’s more optimism than there was for most of the time,” House Republican Leader Dave Reed said.
“But,” he added, “we’ll wait and see.”
So far, the legislature has sent the governor its fiscal code, which implements the overall budget, and which Wolf said he still has to review.
Now, Senate leaders say they plan to take up the public school code bill and, likely, the tax code — which contains most of the revenue components that would actually balance the budget.
Both chambers also say they’re hopeful they can get a gambling expansion done in short order, after over a year of trying to come to an agreement on one.
But an old sticking-point — whether to legalize video gaming terminals, or VGTs, in bars and taverns — remains. According to House Republican spokesman Steve Miskin, his chamber’s position is clear.
“The votes to pass a gaming bill literally may not exist in the House without that,” he said.
Senate GOP Appropriations Chair Pat Browne left a little more room for compromise, but not much.
“We would entertain the possibility of something that would have [VGTs] if it led to a final solution,” he said. “It hasn’t in the past, so it’s our objective not to include that as part of the bill.”
Browne said the expansion currently being drafted in the Senate includes airport and internet gambling, and legalization of ten miniature casinos — though he noted, details are still in flux.