Wednesday, October 7, 2009
A busy night in the House of Representatives may have paved the way for an end to Pennsylvania’s 100-day budget impasse. The chamber approved a tax bill, sending it to the governor’s desk, and passed appropriations legislation that will return to the Senate. The tax bill authorizes all the spending plan’s tax increases except the levy on soon-to-be legalized table games. That leaves an increased cigarette tax, and a raised Capitol Stock and Franchise Tax rate in the plan. The vote did not go without a debate. Before the vote, Republican Whip Mike Turzai of Mc Candless argued lawmakers shouldn’t raise a single tax this year. “This bill is one of the largest tax increases ever on the citizens of Pennsylvania. And the fact of the matter is that we do not need to pass a tax increase to have a responsible budget.” The House also approved an amended appropriations bill. That is the legislation authorizing all the line-item spending that’s been debated since February. House Democratic leaders say Senate Republicans have signed off on the measure’s language. Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi says he’s cautiously receptive to the plan, but warns he and GOP staff will have to carefully review the details before he gives his full approval. A vote in the upper chamber could come today.