The Pennsylvania Senate has passed a spending bill for the fiscal year that begins tomorrow, setting the stage for a House vote that could come hours before tonight’s midnight budget deadline.
The Senate approved the 28.05 billion dollar 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.
"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.
Senate Appropriations Chair Jake Corman, a Centre County Republican, says there are a lot of cuts in the budget.
"This budget reflects spending less money than we did two years ago. And I think that’s a reflection of the recession we’re in, and the commitment of this legislature to rein in spending, and to tighten our belts as well."
Nearly every department would see its funding trimmed in this budget.
The Department of Environmental Protection loses 13 million dollars, and the Department of Public Welfare’s budget shrinks by more than 60 million dollars.
The House is expected to vote on the plan tonight.