A bill providing about 600 million dollars in federal assistance for Pennsylvania has cleared a key vote in the U.S. Senate.
61 Senators, including Democrats Bob Casey and Arlen Specter, voted to end debate on the Federal Medical Assistance Program (FMAP) extension, which will send billions of dollars to Pennsylvania and other states.
The measure still needs to pass another Senate vote and go to the House, but Governor Rendell says there’s “no question” 51 Senators will vote “yes” later this week.
The governor doesn’t expect any hurdles in the lower chamber, either.
"No. I think the Blue Dogs, who were the problem originally, were insisting it be paid for. Since it is paid for, I think we’ll get all of their votes."
Democratic leaders closed federal tax loopholes and cut spending in other areas, in order to make sure the federal aid didn’t add to the deficit.
When the bill becomes law, it will fill about 600 million dollars of Pennsylvania’s 850 million dollar budget gap.
Rendell will sit down with legislative leaders next week to determine how to cut the additional 250 million from the state’s spending plan. Rendell didn’t weigh in on whether he’d agree to cut his prized basic education increase.
"Well it depends. We’re going to look at that, too, and determine where that goes. You know, it’s easy to say, well education got more money so you can cut the basic education subsidy."
The governor says any layoffs created by the cuts would go into effect in early September.