Friday, October 9, 2009

Day 101: Budget Update

There are a lot of moving parts to Pennsylvania’s budget and there is still some work to be done on each.

The tax bill, which provides the funding for the budget, is currently waiting for the Governor’s signature. The tax bill includes an increase in the state cigarette tax and an increase to the capital stock and franchise tax paid by some businesses.

If all goes as expected in the Senate today, the tax bill could be joined by the House’s $27.8 billion budget bill on the Governor’s desk, potentially to be signed by tonight.

Meanwhile, the House and Senate are both still working on the fiscal code bill. This bill determines where the tax revenues will be deposited in order to later pay for parts of the general fund. The two provisions still under negotiation include the leasing of state forestland for natural gas drilling and the creation of a legislative fiscal office, which is meant to work along with the Governor’s Budget Office.

The fiscal code is crucial to the budget’s passage because the budget cannot be signed into law without it.

Finally, legislators are still trying to reach agreement on the legalization of poker, blackjack and roulette at Pennsylvania’s slot machine casinos.

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