Governor Ed Rendell says he’s “heartened” by progress being made in budget talks, and that he’s optimistic a spending plan for Pennsylvania could be approved by June 30th.
Legislative leaders met in the morning, and Rendell characterizes the session as “very productive.”
He says lawmakers on both sides of the aisle seem more willing to compromise, and are determined to pass an on-time budget, after last year’s 101-day standoff.
Senate Republican spokesman Erik Arneson agrees both parties are getting along better this year.
"I think we all understand that last year’s process was rightly seen by the public and anyone watching it – that it was horrible. We share the urgency to get this done by June 30th. And I think that’s true of all four caucuses."
Arneson says Republicans are “willing to consider” a natural gas tax, if it passes the House. House Democrats have so far been unable to pass their revenue package which contains taxes on cigarettes, cigars and natural tax production.
Rendell says he’s making calls to skeptical Democrats.
"Here we’re talking about tax increases that effect big gas, big tobacco and big retailers. And the public has made it pretty clear that they want those taxes generated, and part of the overall revenue package."
The tax bill would generate about 280 million dollars in additional revenue for the General Fund.