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December 06, 2015

After House revolts, Pa. lawmakers voting Sunday on separate budget plans

Wolf urging House GOP to accept compromise

After five months without one, Pennsylvania lawmakers seemingly had reached an agreement on a budget coming into Saturday.

However, House Republicans have reportedly rejected the tentative framework reached between Gov. Tom Wolf and top GOP lawmakers, asking for further reductions in spending and taxes after a month of negotiations.

Both the House and Senate will now meet, putting forward different budget proposals.

The original deal included a $350 million increase for education, a "historic" jump, according to Wolf, who made spending on schools a key point in his original proposal.

While it seemed that the long impasse may finally be coming to an end, House republicans "revolted" against the compromise Saturday, according to the Associated Press, saying they were working on a smaller spending plan with a lighter tax increase.

Despite the move, Wolf and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) said they were commited to the original plan, which altogether included $30.7 billion in spending and a $600 million tax hike.

The jumps in education and overall spending would both be 6 percent increases, according to AP.

According to PennLive, the plan House Republicans are working on would instead revolve around $30.3 billion in spending and cut the school funding increase down to $150 million.

Drew Crompton, a top GOP Senate staffer, told the website he hoped the compromise they had worked out with Wolf was still "doable" and expressed frustration at his fellow party members in the House, saying Republicans wouldn't be able to get the reforms they desire if they cut speniding more:

"We pushed that (spending number) as far down as we could push it. Would we like to push it down further? Absolutely. But not if we're not going to get pensions and liquor," Crompton said.

Wolf had agreed to sign bills that would scale back public pension benefits and allow private businesses to sell wine and liquor in exchange for the school funding, according to AP.

Yet getting those reforms wasn't the key point for several House Republicans, who told PennLive the tax increases made the deal too tough to swallow.

Wolf released a statement Saturday pleading with lawmakers to come to terms with the framework he had reached with GOP lawmakers.

“Nearly one month ago, Republican leaders agreed to a budget with me that includes the largest increase in education funding – at all levels – in the history of Pennsylvania. It is long past time for the legislature to move ahead with this agreement and end this impasse," the statement read.

According to the latest from AP, the House and the Senate, both handily controlled by Republicans, will come back to the Capitol Sunday for committee votes to advance seperate plans.

The details on both plans are still hazy and it's unclear whether either will have enough votes to pass both chambers.