Pa. House approves no-tax-hike budget

Pennsylvania Gov Tom CorbettHARRISBURG – The state House on Wednesday approved a $28.3 billion no-tax-hike budget, increasing education funding by $100 million and directing millions more to the disabled.

The 108-92 vote, after five hours of debate, kicks off three weeks of talks with the Senate and the Corbett administration to arrive at a final spending plan.

“This budget is a blueprint for good governance,” said House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny). “It does not increase taxes, and provides the highest level of education funding and provides for the most vulnerable.”

Erik Arneson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware), praised the House budget as fiscally responsible.

“We’ll continue working with the House and Gov. Corbett to reach an agreement on next year’s budget, and we remain confident we’ll complete that work by June 30,” Arneson said.

He said he expected the Senate to take up budget-related bills the week of June 24.

The budget increases spending by $500 million while delivering $300 million in tax breaks for businesses.

Democrats expressed outrage that the spending plan did not include a provision for Medicaid expansion to cover as many as 600,000 uninsured Pennsylvanians, and leaves cash-strapped Philadelphia schools $304 million in the hole with only $30 million in additional funding.

Rep. Dan Frankel of Allegheny County, who was joined by other House Democrats in the floor debate, said Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act was the “moral thing to do.”

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