- Associated Press - Monday, September 28, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Gov. Tom Wolf and legislative leaders met on and off throughout the day Monday in an effort to craft a compromise to end the Pennsylvania state budget impasse, but no breakthroughs surfaced.

Negotiators from both parties described the discussions as promising, but remained vague about the status of the many thorny issues that separate them. They met for about an hour in early afternoon and about 90 minutes in late afternoon, but ultimately scrapped tentative plans for an evening session.

“At least we’re having a conversation,” said Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny. “The numbers haven’t changed much.”

House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, said he hoped the talks would yield “common ground” that could lead to a bipartisan budget deal.

“We all want a budget,” Wolf told reporters at an impromptu news conference. “I understand the need for compromise and we’re both going to have to move if we’re going to get to common ground.”

The Democratic governor is proposing a multibillion-dollar tax increase that would provide a significant funding increase for public schools and eliminate a budget deficit. Republicans want to privatize the sale of wine and liquor and revamp the state’s public pensions to reduce future costs.

Wolf reaffirmed that he plans to veto a stopgap budget approved earlier this month by GOP majorities in the House and Senate and delivered to his office late in the day Monday. The $11 billion proposal would cover costs incurred between July and September by school districts and county-run social services.

“Pennsylvanians want a budget,” he said. “They don’t want a stopgap.”

On June 30, the last day of the last fiscal year, Wolf vetoed a $30.2 billion GOP budget plan that called for no new taxes, saying it would shortchange education and human services, deepen the budget deficit and let the natural gas industry escape the kind of tax every other gas-producing state imposes. Republicans rejected Wolf’s $31.6 billion plan, saying it would require the largest tax increase in the state’s history.

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