Pennsylvania lawmakers grapple over decision on tax increase

Staff and Wire Reports

HARRISBURG — Work on Pennsylvania state government’s budget for the day-old fiscal year may stretch into next week as lawmakers grapple with decisions about tax increases.

The Senate sent its members home Friday afternoon, as budget negotiators continued a quest to assemble more than $1 billion to balance Pennsylvania’s deficit-riddled finances.

About an hour later, the House followed suit, said Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township.

Representatives are on a six-hour call, meaning they'd have six hours to get back to Harrisburg to vote if told to return, this weekend. But Grove suspects lawmakers won't return until Tuesday.

A key element to the revenue plan could be a gross receipts tax on the natural gas that serves nearly 3 million households and businesses in Pennsylvania.

"The sticking point is once again taxes," said Grove, who voted against the spending plan because it would require tax increases. "Spending other people's money is easy. Taking other people's money is the hard part."

Lawmakers have sent the main spending bill in a $31.5 billion budget to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk. But Wolf says he won’t sign it without sustainable revenues to fund it.

He’ll have 10 days to decide what to do with it. Meanwhile, legislative staffers are preparing hundreds of pages of budget-related bills, including charter school legislation that’s opposed by the Philadelphia School District.

— Reach Greg Gross at or on Twitter at @ggrossyd.