- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 29, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The latest developments in efforts by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and leaders of the Pennsylvania Legislature’s huge Republican majorities to break a budget stalemate that is nearing its fourth month:


1:10 p.m.

Top Republicans in the Pennsylvania Senate say they are deeply troubled by Gov. Tom Wolf’s veto of a short-term spending plan.

In a statement Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati accused the first-term Democrat of holding schools and social services hostage in budget talks.

Republicans say their $11 billion, four-month spending package would have ended unnecessary hardships while budget talks continue. Democrats opposed it.

Wolf wants a multibillion-dollar tax increase to wipe out Republican funding cuts for schools and human services and to eliminate a long-term budget deficit. He also wants measures to cut residential school property taxes and impose a severance tax on the natural gas industry.

But Republicans say most Pennsylvanians can’t afford the tax increase, and they’re pressing Wolf to overhaul benefits in Pennsylvania’s two big public employee pension systems and to privatize the state-controlled wine and liquor system.


12:45 p.m.

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale says public school borrowing is in the hundreds of millions as officials search for ways to stay open through a three-month-old state government budget stalemate.

DePasquale said Tuesday that his office found that 17 school districts and two intermediate units have borrowed a total of about $346 million to make up for the stoppage in state payments. He says interest and fees on the loans could reach $11.2 million.

DePasquale’s office surveyed officials at nearly 300 of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts to reach those figures. DePasquale also notes that many districts are losing investment income because they are spending down their reserves. The biggest borrower is the Philadelphia School District at $275 million. The others each borrowed $10 million or less.

DePasquale says public school borrowing will surpass $500 million by Nov. 1 and $1 billion by Dec. 1, if the stalemate continues that long.


12:24 p.m.

Pennsylvania is still without a plan to pay for government operations after Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a Republican-crafted short-term spending measure.

Wolf vetoed the three-bill package Tuesday, saying it would sell out the people of Pennsylvania to oil and gas companies and special interests, increase the state government’s deficit and harm its credit rating.

Wolf wants a multibillion-dollar tax increase to close a long-term budget deficit and boost aid to schools and human services.

On June 30, the governor vetoed a $30.2 billion budget package passed June 30 by Republicans who control both chambers of the Legislature. No Democratic lawmakers voted for the GOP’s budget bill or short-term spending measure.


8:50 a.m.

Gov. Tom Wolf is attacking the Legislature’s Republican majority leaders and saying they are the only ones blocking a sound budget as a state government stalemate nears its fourth month.

Wolf spoke Tuesday during a regularly scheduled appearance on Pittsburgh radio station KDKA-AM.

The first-term Democrat suggests there are many Republican lawmakers who’d sign on to the kind of spending plan he’s seeking.

Wolf wants a multibillion-dollar tax increase to wipe out Republican cuts to education aid in 2011 and fix a long-term budget deficit. Republican leaders haven’t agreed to any sort of tax increase and are pressing Wolf for bigger concessions on an overhaul of public pension benefits and wine and liquor sales.

With state aid stalled, schools, counties and nonprofit social services organizations are trying to scrape by.


This story has been corrected to show that Wolf vetoed a three bill package, not a two-bill package.

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