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Talks yield no Pennsylvania budget deal, with 3 days left

Pennsylvania's state House of Representatives and Senate are returning to session Tuesday, as the Republican-controlled chambers work to get an agreement on a roughly $42 billion budget plan with Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf with just three days left in the fiscal year.

No budget plan has been unveiled, and hundreds of pages of budget-related legislation remain under wraps. Closed-door talks were still going on Monday afternoon as Senate Republicans warned that they were still “far apart” with Wolf's office.

Without new budget legislation signed into law by Friday, the state will lose some of its spending authority, although it could be weeks before any effect is felt.

The talks revolve around the amount of money Wolf is seeking for public schools, after he asked for almost $1.8 billion more for instruction, operations and special education, or about 21% more. Of that, $300 million was set aside for the 100 poorest public school districts and $200 million for special education.

Senate Republican leaders were still seeking concessions from Wolf.

Republican leaders are willing to send more money to public schools, but perhaps one-third to one-half of the amount Wolf requested. The state must be wary of overspending with an economic slowdown possibly on the way, they say.

Greasing the skids this year is a massive influx of tax receipts leaving the state’s bank accounts flush with — by some estimates — $12 billion in reserves and surpluses, boosted by inflation and an economy juiced with federal pandemic subsidies.

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