By Jon Delano

HARRISBURG (KDKA) — With an unusual spirit of bipartisanship, the state legislature approved a $31.5 billion budget two weeks ago.

One problem, they did not pass a revenue plan to pay for it.

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At the time, Gov. Wolf said, “I will sign the General Appropriations bill as soon as there is a sustainable revenue package to pay for it.”

But with a midnight deadline Monday to sign or veto the budget — and still no revenue package from the legislature – Gov. Wolf changed his mind.

“I will let the bipartisan budget compromise become law. If a revenue package were already on my desk, I would have been proud to sign it,” Gov. Wolf said Sunday night at a press conference.

Gov. Wolf said he will let the budget become law tonight — without his signature — even though the Republican-controlled legislature has not come up with the additional $1.3 billion needed to pay for it.

“This is a budget that Pennsylvania can be proud of. It puts us back on a path to fiscal responsibility and a sustainable future. Now we must pay for the promises in the general appropriation bill,” he said.

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Those promises include an additional $250 million for public schools, something Gov. Wolf has pushed for since his election.

But majority House and Senate Republicans can’t seem to agree among themselves, and Democrat Wolf insists, “Paying for what has been appropriated must be done with sustainable, recurring, and sufficient revenues. Taking out loans, moving money from different funds, or using other one-time sources of revenue will not move Pennsylvania forward.”

House and Senate Republicans — who control both chambers — have, so far, been unable to reach an agreement on how to raise that money.

Sources say lawmakers are wrestling with a variety of options, including raising the cigarette tax by as much as a dollar a pack up to $2.60 per pack, expanding that tax to smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes, legalizing and taxing internet gambling and fantasy games, and restoring tax on natural gas consumption.

Gov. Wolf warned lawmakers to avoid gimmicks to pay for the budget.

“We cannot and we must not make a lifetime of promises to our children, to our seniors, and to those who are sick, and then turn around and pay for those promises with borrowed money and one-time fixes,” he said.

Legislators are still in Harrisburg, but no agreement yet on a revenue package.

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