Wolf begins defense of spending plan in budget hearings

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration will begin defending his $33.3 billion budget proposal to the Republican-controlled Legislature, as the Democrat confronts Pennsylvania government’s worst budget gridlock in decades.

The first House and Senate Appropriations Committee meetings on Wolf’s latest proposal were scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Monday.

Wolf calls the state’s finances a ticking time bomb and wants a nearly $3 billion, election-year tax increase to wipe out a long-term deficit and narrow a huge funding disparity between wealthy and poor school districts.

Top Republican lawmakers say they’re committed to dealing with the deficit without raising taxes. The sides are still fighting over billions of dollars eight months into the current budget year after House GOP leaders helped block a tax increase. That’s left school districts to borrow to stay open.

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