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Pa. Lawmakers Return To Tackle Budget, Casino License

(The Pennsylvania capitol, in Harrisburg.  File photo)

(The Pennsylvania capitol, in Harrisburg. File photo)

(Capitol dome, Harrisburg, Pa.   File photo) Tony Romeo
  Tony Romeo is Harrisburg bureau chief for KYW Newsradio...
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By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) – After a three week primary election break, Pennsylvania lawmakers return to the state capitol today to begin the busiest stretch of the year: the run-up to the June 30th budget deadline and summer recess.

Front and center will be the budget, and Governor Corbett’s proposed steep cuts for higher education and social services.

But Erik Arneson, spokesman for the Senate majority leader, says there have been two straight months of revenue collections above projections. “If things continue in the same positive direction that they have been, I expect that there will be a lot of interest in increasing funding for higher education in particular. Also some of the block-grant funds that are used for social services at the county level.”

While the budget will dominate the agenda, there are other issues, including the fate of the former Foxwoods casino license, which the House is expected to take up this week.

Stephen Miskin, spokesman for the House majority leader, says the license may be deleted or opened up for statewide competition, but is not likely to remain designated for Philadelphia.

“Keeping it in Philadelphia – no offense to Mayor Nutter – but, they’ve had their chance, and it’s just fluttered around for a number of years.”

Miskin also says the House this spring intends to tackle liquor store privatization. Meanwhile, the spokesman for the Senate majority leader says after two months of revenue collections above projections, that if that trend continues, there will likely be some restoration of the governor’s proposed budget cuts to higher education and social service programs.

Also hanging in the balance is Philadelphia’s red light camera program. It is possible lawmakers may not agree to extend the program, set to expire June 30th.

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