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Wolf: December budget ‘more realistic’

HARRISBURG — Al though the monthslong impasse over a state budget seems poised to end, a final spending plan probably won’t be enacted until December, Gov. Wolf said Monday.

In a radio interview, the governor said he had hoped the deal would be complete by Thanksgiving — as he and legislative leaders said last week — but called “more realistic” the prediction by Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre) that a budget will not be finalized until next month.

“We have some work to do,” Wolf said on Pittsburg’s KQV.

Wolf acknowledged that the centerpiece of the tentative deal — a 1.25 percent increase in the state sales tax — was not the funding stream he preferred. He wanted an increase in the personal income tax and a new levy on natural gas drilling, he said, but that simply was not possible due to Republican opposition in the legislature.

In related news, Pennsylvania budget impasse could start pinching local public schools.

“We have a divided government and this is what looks like can be passed,” he said. “We are all going to get a little bit of what we want. … All of us who support this are going to be upset with some of the things we get but I think we need to move beyond this impasse so that our schools can get funded and our human service county organizations can get the funds they so desperately need.”

The framework under discussion now would increase the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7.25 percent, generating about $400 million in new funding for schools and money to reduce local property taxes.

Asked about the terror attacks in Paris, Wolf said he he had been in close contact with the Pennsylvania State Police and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency over the weekend, adding that the state faced no “imminent threat.”

Unlike the governors of Michigan and Alabama, who said their states will now attempt to bar Syrian refugees, Wolf said Pennsylvania will not turn its back on the migrants.

“Pennsylvania has a rich history of accepting refugees,” he said, noting that the federal government has expressed confidence that it can properly vet the approximately 10,000 refugees who would be accepted into the United States. “We should continue Pennsylvania’s multi-century tradition of being a welcoming place for immigrants.”

(c)2015 The Philadelphia Inquirer

This article was written by Matthew Nussbaum from The Philadelphia Inquirer and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.