Weekend budget negotiations at Capitol, no concrete plan to pay for $32 billion in spending

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Day 8 into the 2017-2018 fiscal year and senate and house leaders are still looking for a way to fill a $2 billion lack of revenue in the Pennsylvania budget.
So, how will Pennsylvania lawmakers in the house and senate cover the costs of the budget given to Governor Tom Wolf?
That's the $32 billion question. Currently, there's a $2 billion revenue shortfall in that $32 billion budget, and no concrete solution yet to bring in those dollars.
"We aren't going to call it soup until we have all of the ingredients, and at different times, we're taking ingredients in and ingredients out," said Jennifer Kocher, spokeswoman for Republican Senator Jake Corman.
Kocher says lawmakers have to weigh the pros and cons of every ingredient in the revenue recipe. One idea?
"Taking a different look at internet gaming, fantasy sports, anything along those lines," said Kocher.
Pennsylvania cashing in on video gaming terminals or VGTs in bars and taverns is another idea legislators have discussed.
"It would undermine the casinos that just got their licenses a few years ago, it would undermine that whole industry, and what we should do is learn from Atlantic City," said Senator Daylin Leach, a Democrat.
He's about creating long-term revenue. To him, VGTs wont do that and neither will privatizing liquor sales, another proposed source of revenue.
"The liquor is, to me, is just a one time infusion of money. We sell the licenses, we get one time cash, but we lose $500 million of sustainable revenue that we have now by having the state stores," said Senator Leach.
What he says will create that long term sustainability?
"We're the only state that doesn't have a broad based state revenue stream from the natural resources in our ground," said Senator Leach.
Regardless of revenue source, lawmakers hope to come to an agreement soon.
"We still want to move forward with what is best for Pennsylvania, what is best for our residents, and understanding taxpayers are not our first stop when it comes to looking for new revenues," said Kocher.
If lawmakers don't come to a revenue conclusion before Monday, Governor Wolf could line veto portions of the budget, freezing some spending, until those spending costs are covered. Lawmakers will be here again tomorrow negotiating the budget and hopefully creating a spending plan the governor can sign.
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