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Pa. House Cancels Vote on Cigarette Tax To Help Philadelphia Schools

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(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) — As predicted by at least one state lawmaker, Republican leaders in the Pennsylvania House this afternoon suddenly canceled a vote scheduled for Monday on a proposed Philadelphia cigarette tax to benefit Philadelphia public schools.

The $2-per-pack tax, if passed by the state legislature, was expected to provide about $45 million in funding for the School District of Philadelphia.

Citing a lack of consensus on the measure, House leadership pulled the plug on Monday’s planned vote.

An earlier version of the cigarette tax measure had passed both the state Senate and House, but additional items unrelated to school funding in the House version required a restart through the legislature.

In the meantime, state House GOP leaders are asking Gov. Corbett to forward enough money to the Philadelphia school district to get the schools opened in September.  The current House schedule has that body reconvening in mid-September, at which time it could try again to tackle the funding issue for Philadelphia schools.

In the meantime, Rep. Mike Vereb (R-Montgomery County) is one House member who believes that the legislation will eventually be passed.

“We’ll take that time to meet with members face-to-face for the next month and see what their issues were, try to turn them to ‘yes’ votes, and I’m very confident with more time on our hands, and the money to open the schools being fronted, that the pressure will be off in terms of trying to force people to vote, and then just try to educate them and encourage them to vote for this legislation,” Vereb told KYW Newsradio this afternoon.

Thursday night, Governor Corbett’s office told CBS 3 the Governor will discuss Philadelphia school funding options with legislative leaders next week and is also concerned over finding long term funding sources for the school district.

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