The Senate Appropriations Committee did not vote on the tentative budget agreement for Pennsylvania last night after all. Instead the Senate Republican Caucus met late preparing for a vote this morning or early afternoon on the $28.05 billion spending plan. In announcing the agreement with legislative leaders, Governor Ed Rendell called it a conservative and responsible budget that is full of painful cuts to account for a huge deficit and the rising costs of prisons, health care and pensions.
There are no broad-based tax increases and the proposal to tax cigars and smokeless tobacco was dropped.
Rendell says the agreement does include a natural gas tax.
"The budget will include language that a tax on Marcellus Shale will be passed by no later than October 1, and the tax will go into effect in January of next year. The reason we didn’t specify the rate or the breakdown between county and state is because there was a number of complex issues that we just ran out of time to deal with."
If the Senate approves the budget, it would go on to the House for consideration. This would be the first on-time budget in the last 8 years.
UPDATE 6/30/10 11:30am-- The appropriations bill has cleared a Senate committee and a full Senate vote is expected soon.