Friday, December 18, 2015

Updated: Wolf: I Have The Votes; House Plans Weekend Vote On Tax Package

(Dec. 18, 6:15 p.m.) -- Gov. Wolf’s office announced Friday just before lunch they believe they have enough votes in the House for a tax bill to support the $30.8 billion General Fund budget “agreed to” by Senate Republicans and Democrats, House Democrats and his office before Thanksgiving.
House Majority Leader David Reed (R-Indiana) said he intends to bring the tax bill up for a vote on Saturday or Sunday. reported Friday evening House Republican spokesman Steve Miskin confirmed the plan is to run all of the framework budget bills, including a Tax Code bill, either Saturday or Sunday this weekend, but with everything wrapped up - General Appropriations bill and all - by Sunday, hopefully.
Meanwhile, conservative Republicans like House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) and Sen. Scott Wager (R-York) are actively working against the tax package.
The Senate Friday passed its Tax Code bill-- House Bill 1198 (Dunbar-R- Westmoreland)-- and returned it to the House which may serve as the vehicle for the House vote on the “agreed-to” tax package.
While the details of the tax package have not yet been made public, the Associated Press is reporting it involves raising the Personal Income Tax from 3.07 to 3.3 percent, which would yield $700 to $800 million in added revenue.
Also expected to be part of the package, the AP said, are increases in taxes on cigarettes and banks.
Senate Republicans told the AP they believe the tax package can pass the Senate, as long as the pension reform bill is part of the package of budget-related bills on the Governor’s desk when the dust settles.
The House adjourned Friday after amending the Senate’s pension reform bill-- Senate Bill 1071 (Browne-R-Lehigh)-- several times.  The bill was then referred to the House Appropriations Committee. It is unclear, at this writing, whether the amendments are acceptable to the Senate.
The House also adjourned without any movement this week on the remainder of the “agreed-to” budget package from the Senate: the Fiscal Code bill-- House Bill 1327; the Liquor privatization bill- House Bill 1690; and the Education Code changes-- House Bill 530; all of which are in the House Rules Committee.
The House also didn’t move the the gaming bill-- House Bill 649 (Payne-R-Dauphin) regulating the online gaming industry-- Republicans said they need to fund their own budget proposal in the original House-passed version of House Bill 1460 (Adolph-R- Delaware).  
House Bill 649 remains on the House Calendar.  House Bill 1460 was amended by the Senate with the “agreed-to” General Fund budget and is in position for a final vote in the Senate.
The bottom line is this, after a week’s work, the House sent only one budget-related bill to the Governor-- House Bill 1322 (Kaufer-R-Luzerne) the Welfare Code vehicle (Senate Fiscal Note); amended a second bill-- the Senate-passed Administrative Code-- House Bill 941 (Regan-R- Cumberland)-- and sent it back to the Senate; and amended, but did not pass, the Senate’s pension reform bill-- Senate Bill 1071 (Browne-R-Lehigh).
Everything else has been a promise of things to come in resolving the budget impasse.
Over in the Senate, PLS reported Republicans are reviewing the changes made by the House to the Administrative Code bill-- House Bill 941 (Regan-R-Cumberland)-- and other bills.
The House adjourned until 11:00 a.m. Saturday, December 19 with the promise of a vote sometime this weekend on the tax package.  
The Senate was scheduled to be in session on Saturday, but it may not be.
So passed Day 172 of the budget impasse.
Visit Here for background on what the last version of the “agreed-to” budget bills had in them for the environment.

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