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Big Questions Remain As June 30th Pa. Budget Deadline Approaches

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) – The focus now shifts to the state Senate after the House last week passed its version of a new Pennsylvania budget. But even though Republican Governor Tom Corbett has a state legislature controlled by his party, some significant differences remain between the governor, the Senate and the House-approved plan.

Chief among those differences is whether to use any of the surplus in the current fiscal year to mitigate some of the deep cuts proposed to close the projected deficit in the next fiscal year. The House budget does not spend the surplus, a position favored by Corbett.

But the Senate GOP thinks otherwise with one big caveat: “We do not yet know what the administration is projecting for revenue in the next fiscal year – which is absolutely vital to know whether it really is fiscally responsible to spend the surplus,” says Erik Arneson, a spokesman for Chester Republican Dominic Pileggi, the Senate majority leader.

Likewise, Arneson says it’ll be up to the administration to decide how much to budget for savings through reduction of errors and fraud in the Department of Welfare, something the House plan uses to reduce proposed cuts in education spending.

Another factor affecting an on-time budget is whether other issues get tied to the budget. And it appears at least one major issue will be linked. “The issue of a Marcellus Shale impact fee,” says Arneson. “Senator Scarnati – the president pro tem in the Senate – has indicated that he doesn’t believe a budget can get done without something moving forward in that area.”

Nonetheless, Arneson still predicts a budget by June 30th.

Reported by Harrisburg Bureau Chief Tony Romeo, KYW Newsradio 1060

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