It also includes a meeting of the minds on legislation to create a tax credit sought by Corbett in his pursuit of bringing an integrated petrochemical industry to Pennsylvania, anchored by a multibillion-dollar refinery planned in the Pittsburgh area by a subsidiary of Netherlands-based oil and gas giant Royal Dutch Shell PLC.
The agreement for the fiscal year beginning July 1 puts the state on course for a second straight on-time budget. It comes after two weeks of almost-daily talks behind closed doors and at a time when schools are making plans to lay off thousands of employees, in part because of deep cuts in state aid this year. Corbett, a Republican who took office last year after campaigning on a pledge not to raise taxes, and the others would not give details about their new agreement until rank-and-file lawmakers are briefed in the coming days.
"We have agreement among ourselves on many, many areas," Corbett told reporters gathered in his Capitol conference room. "There are still some other areas we need to work out."
Leaders of the House and Senate Republican majorities stood at Corbett's sides but largely stayed silent during the briefing.
Democrats were not invited to the talks, and not one single Democratic lawmaker voted for the budget currently in force, which was Corbett's first as governor.
The newly agreed-upon spending plan appears to be nearly identical to one put forth to Corbett by lawmakers. If so, it will include no new taxes while raising spending less than 2 percent and leaving about $267 million in reserve a year from now.
Aid for public schools and 18 state-supported universities would remain flat, at least. Budget negotiators also discussed adding a $50 million zero-interest loan program for school districts nearing financial collapse and an additional $100 million in tax credits on business-sector donations to subsidize scholarships for low-income children in the state's worst-performing schools. But it was not clear whether money for those programs was included in the agreement.
Meanwhile, the plan would cut business taxes by $275 million while slashing money for county-run social services by 10 percent, or $84 million, and eliminating a $150 million cash benefit called General Assistance for temporarily disabled adults who are out of work.
The $200-a-month cash benefit, which dates back to the Great Depression, has been on Republicans' chopping block despite appeals from advocates for the poor and homeless, as well as the AARP, the United Way and religious groups representing Catholics, Methodists, Lutherans, Unitarian Universalists and Jews.
Corbett proposed a $27.1 billion hold-the-line plan in February that nonetheless included deep cuts in aid for education and social services while cutting business taxes and spending more on health care and public employee pension costs.
But tax collections began to brighten after that, and Republican lawmakers used the newly available cash in their alternative plan to add hundreds of millions of dollars to the subsidies that Corbett had proposed for universities, public schools, county-run social services, the race horse industry, medical research, retailers and hospitals and nursing homes that care for the poor.
The Democratic minority in the House of Representatives sought unsuccessfully earlier this month to win a vote for $300 million in additional spending that it insisted the state would collect in taxes and bashed the GOP agenda as needlessly painful for schools and people who depend on social services.