Tax package nearing readiness, lawmaker says

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – A top Senate Republican says a tax package to fund a $31.5 billion election-year spending plan is nearing readiness in the Pennsylvania Legislature.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Patrick Browne said Tuesday that the package will include a $1 per-pack tax increase on cigarettes, to $2.60 per pack.

He says the $1.3 billion package also will include higher taxes on banks, extending the state’s 6 percent sales tax to digital downloads of music and videos and extending wholesale taxes to smokeless tobacco and electronic cigarettes.

Wednesday votes are possible.

The House ended its voting session Tuesday amid closed-door wrangling over hundreds of pages of budget-related legislation and open disputes about Republican efforts to pave the way for more charter school slots in the cash-strapped Philadelphia School District.

State government is operating under a spending bill that lacks the tax collections to sustain it, and lawmakers say they’re scrambling to fix that before there’s a lawsuit or bond downgrade.

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