State Lawmakers Look For Way To Balance $32 Billion Budget

HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) – Legislative leaders met Monday afternoon to come up with a plan to pay for the budget they passed last Friday.

But they made no progress, sources told KDKA political editor Jon Delano, and will meet again on Wednesday.

When state lawmakers passed a $32 billion budget, it was just a spending bill without taxes to pay for it.

Now legislative leaders are meeting to figure out what taxes to hike to fill a projected $2 billion deficit over the next two years.

Passing a spending budget without a way to pay for it sounds pretty crazy to many of us. But legislators say that’s pretty typical in Harrisburg.

So the question is what taxes would you raise to balance the budget?

First thing to know — the easiest way to raise a lot of money is off the table.

“There will not be any increases in the personal income tax, nor will there be an increase in the sales tax,” says PA Sen. Jay Costa, the Senate Democratic Leader.

Governor Wolf says no to that, even though the income tax hasn’t changed in 13 years and the sales tax hasn’t gone up in nearly 50 years.

Instead, raising the sin taxes are popular with citizens.

“Cigarette and alcohol is a good idea. Stuff I don’t do. Won’t affect me,” says Mike Prendergast of Robinson.

“Alcohol tax, cigarette tax. Everybody expects that to go up. Might as well,” says Dustin Kiefer of Carnegie.

But after that, it’s hard to find much agreement — yet.

Many Democrats continue to push a tax on Marcellus shale drilling, while many Republicans like the one-time fix of selling off the state’s wine and spirits stores.

One senator wants to expand gaming to raise money.

“I have a bill that would legalize daily fantasy sports like Draft Kings and FanDuel, one that would allow internet gaming, a bill that would legalize the video gaming terminals that are already in our bars and taverns,” said PA Sen. Guy Reschenthaler of Jefferson Hills.

But there’s opposition to that, too.

One way used to balance last year’s budget — borrow the money.

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