HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Pennsylvania House Republicans revolted Saturday against the latest plan between Gov. Tom Wolf and top lawmakers to break a five-month budget stalemate, leaving two competing plans and any resolution in doubt.
House Republicans emerged from a lengthy closed-door meeting in the Capitol to say that the majority caucus would not support a multi-faceted budget plan their leadership had helped negotiate in the prior weeks.
Instead, House Republicans said, consensus had emerged around a smaller spending plan and a smaller tax increase.
“It’s much closer to what the caucus has been looking for in a budget,” said Rep. Seth Grove, R-York.
Rep. Kate Harper, R-Montgomery, said she expected a Monday floor vote on the plan. House Republican leaders remained inside the ongoing meeting during an unusual weekend session for lawmakers.
Both Wolf and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, said Saturday that they had remained committed to a deal that had revolved around a $30.7 billion spending plan with a $350 million boost for public schools, each a 6 percent increase.
It also required a $600 million-plus tax increase, although the source of the money remained the subject of debate.
Wolf, a Democrat, has insisted on the tax increase to deliver a record boost in aid to public schools and narrow a long-term budget deficit. As a tradeoff, he had agreed to sign legislation long-sought by Senate Republicans to scale back public pension benefits and by House Republicans to allow private businesses to sell wine or liquor outside the state-controlled system.
House Republicans acknowledged that breaking the agreement meant that they would set aside pension and liquor legislation because they could not expect Wolf to sign them.
On Saturday afternoon, Wolf urged lawmakers to support the deal he had endorsed along with House and Senate Republican majority leaders.
“Nearly one month ago, Republican leaders agreed to a budget with me that includes the largest increase in education funding – at all levels – in the history of Pennsylvania,” Wolf said in a statement. “It is long past time for the Legislature to move ahead with this agreement and end this impasse.”
Corman also said the Senate was sticking to the agreement.
“We just need to keep forging forward and if we have to make tweaks here and there to get it done, we will, but the most important is getting a budget done to get schools paid, to get social services paid and get public pension reform done that takes the commonwealth out of the risk business,” Corman said.
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