PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The outlines of a possible budget deal are leaking from the state capitol, and it could mean a little something for everybody but at a price.
Both Republican and Democratic sources tell KDKA political editor Jon Delano that progress has been made on a budget plan with the following elements:
- Sales tax hiked from 6.0% to 7.25 percent (8.25 percent in Allegheny Co.);
- Every dollar from that tax hike, $2 billion, would reduce school property taxes;
- $600 million from casino slots tax would be used to pay down pension fund debt;
- $400 million in additional funding for public education, a key campaign promise of Governor Wolf.
So a sales tax hike to lower school taxes?
“I don’t think it’s a bad idea, to be honest. Yeah, I’d be okay with it,” said Shannon Morrow of North Huntington.
But some are skeptical.
“If it’s actually going for property taxes, I’d be for it. But, unfortunately, half the time it never really happens,” noted Mike Jones of Crafton.
Legislators know they have to guarantee the dollar for dollar off-set and then make sure school boards don’t raise taxes either.
On other issues, it appears a tax on natural gas drilling is off the table, but there could be higher taxes on cigarettes and tobacco products.
As for the Republican goal of privatizing the state’s liquor system, some compromise is still possible.
Sources in Harrisburg say we are a long way from ironing out the details of any budget deal.
So if you feel strongly about any of these issues, now is a good time to contact your state legislator.
Delano and Sen. Jay Costa appeared on KDKA Radio Tuesday evening.
Delano asked the senator what the setbacks could be for the budget. Sen. Costa said they have details to flesh out with respect to the pensions, distribution of property tax, and education spending distribution.
“I have no doubt that we will get through all of these issues that remain,” Sen. Costa said, “and the final issues represents the wine and spirits modernization or privatization.”
Listen to more of Jon Delano and Sen. Costa’s interview here: