Lawmakers and Gov. Wolf take steps forward in budget impasse

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – House Republican spokesman Steve Miskin says they are working with the Wolf administration and lawmakers on the other side of the aisle to end the budget impasse.

Several issues are on the table, including increasing the sales tax from 6 percent to 7.25 percent as a way to decrease property taxes.

“It would change how Pennsylvanians buy wine and spirits,” Miskin said. “It would bring about some pension reform.”

Miskin says so far, no deals are in place.

Wolf spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan said Republicans are prepared to green light the largest increase in education funding in state history. He said Wolf has secured a commitment from GOP leaders to increase Pre-K through 12 education spending by $750 million in the next two years.

Sheridan said the agreement would increase basic education funding $350 million in this fiscal year and another $200 million in 2016-2017. Special education and Pre-K funding each would increase $50 million in both fiscal years.

Some Democrats are optimistic but proceeding with caution. Senator Rob Teplitz says serious discussions are taking place, but nothing is etched in stone.

“We have to be careful not to get overly optimistic,” Teplitz said. “There are still a lot of details that need to be worked out.”

The preliminary deal does not include a new tax on natural gas drilling, but an increase in cigarette tax is being considered.

Some lawmakers say they would like a new budget finished by Thanksgiving.

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