Senate approves budget revenue plan; House to take another look at gambling expansion

HARRISBURG, Pa. - The State Senate Wednesday approved the budget revenue plan, including all the budget code bills needed for the state to have a fully approved budget.

The centerpiece of the plan is $1.5 billion in borrowing against future revenues from a multi-state tobacco settlement, and also includes an online sales tax and a new tax on fireworks sales.

Senators were relieved to have the codes approved out of their chamber.

"The fact that there's no pain for being late just allows it to linger on and on and on," said Sen. Majority Leader Jake Corman (R - Centre). "Where we landed, we could have landed in July. We didn't, but I don't know the pressure was there to push us in that direction."

The Wolf administration was non-committal about the fate of the budget revenue plan.

"Governor Wolf is going to work over the next few days to evaluate the code bills on his desk and make decisions on the entirety of them," said J.J. Abbott, the governor's press seceretary in a statement. "These bills contain many policy changes and deserve a full vetting."

One final piece of the puzzle, according to Republican lawmakers, is an online gambling expansion. The Senate approved the expansion Wednesday, but made amendments to the bill that required the House's approval.

"I think we were able to do it in a responsible way that allows local control, which is important and keeps it within an industry that has already been successful," Corman said.

That approval could come as early as Thursday morning, as House rules prevented a vote on the matter before the House's mandatory 11 p.m. adjournment time. The House re-convenes at 8 a.m. Thursday.

"It provides some sort of video gaming terminals at the local level, which has been a big house push," said Rep. Seth Grove (R - York County). "It does expand gaming, airport gaming, I-gaming, sports betting."