Lawmakers pass $1.3 billion budget bailout package, Wolf signs

Lawmakers pass $1.3 billion budget bailout package, Wolf signs
The Republican-controlled Pennsylvania legislature approved budget bills that use new taxes on tobacco and digital downloads, along with changes to gambling and wine sales, to help pay for the $31.5 billion spending plan it passed last month. Gov. Tom Wolf (D) pledged to sign the legislation. The agreement delivers more funding for two of Wolf’s priorities, public schools and opioid and heroin addiction prevention, but he was forced to compromise on his demand to avoid one-time cash infusions to balance the books. Republicans prevailed in their effort to block any broad-based taxes, and won changes to the state-run alcohol sales system that some say are the first steps toward privatization. Given the recent partisan history in Harrisburg, striking a deal on a revenue plan, less than two weeks after the July 1 deadline, was momentous and in stark contrast to the partisan divide that gridlocked the Capitol for the first 18 months of Wolf’s tenure. Rep. Madeline Dean, a democrat from Montgomery County, said she chose to focus on the positive aspects of the deal, including $200 million more for K-12 public education, $30 million more for early childhood education, and $20 million for special education. “Vote to pay for that which you have approved to spend,” she urged her colleagues. “Credit agencies are paying attention – and so are our constituents.”
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer; 7/15/2016

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