Pennsylvania Capitol Building in Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg for the Capital-Star).
The Republican-controlled Pennsylvania House and Senate have canceled weekend sessions planned after missing the midnight Thursday deadline to send this year’s budget to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.
Details of budget negotiations have been sparse, but House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, said Friday that the sticking points include higher education, K-12 education, mental health spending, and reducing the state’s debt.
Benninghoff called for patience and said the process is unique this year because of differing priorities on how to spend $2.2 billion in federal pandemic aid.
“At this point, there is not a total agreement on each of these different areas because it is very complicated,” Benninghoff said.
Leaders have said reducing the corporate net income tax and discussion of a gaming expansion are also in the mix.
Democratic House leaders expressed frustration about Republican leadership leaving Harrisburg for the holiday weekend without a budget in place.
“The inaction we’ve seen is disappointing. With a $12 billion surplus, we can and should deliver for the people of Pennsylvania,” Democratic leaders said in a statement.
“Rather than pass a timely budget that helps working families, we’ve been distracted by unrelated issues and interjected politics at the expense of in-state tuition for Pennsylvania students,” Democrats said in their statement.
Benninghoff said at the start of Friday’s session that leaders and staff would continue to meet and work through differences with the administration and Senate.
“Rather than rush, trying to meet some arbitrary date, we’re going to send the members home when we’re done here on the floor today, and put them on 24-hour callback,” Benninghoff said.
The Senate canceled sessions scheduled for Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday.
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