Pennsylvania lawmakers working through weekend on state budget amid signs of partisan impasse

Pennsylvania lawmakers returned to the Capitol on Sunday amid expectations the Republican majority will soon send the Democratic governor a state budget he has threatened to veto and other legislation he may also reject.

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The House went into session at midafternoon to take up a variety of legislation, including some of the bills that traditionally accompany the budget process at this time of the year.

The Senate planned an early evening committee vote on the main state budget, and a proposal to privatize the state liquor system was among its potential business.

A $30 billion-plus state budget bill passed the state House on Saturday, 112-77, with all Democrats and two Republicans voting "no." Under the Legislature's rules, the Senate can't vote on it until Tuesday.

Republicans touted their budget proposal's slight rise in education funding and said it lacked any tax increase despite the state's substantial structural deficit. Democrats argued it again shortchanged schools after several years of inadequate state funding and employed too many short-term fixes that would leave public finances on shaky financial footing.

Pennsylvania's next budget year begins at midnight Tuesday, a soft deadline called for in the state constitution to enact a spending plan for the coming year.

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A spokesman said Gov. Tom Wolf will veto the budget if it passes in its current form, but he has not decided whether that would be a full veto or require the use of his line-item veto power.

Spokesman Jeff Sheridan said the governor will evaluate liquor privatization and public pension changes when they make it to his desk.

If the budget does not pass or Wolf vetoes it, state workers can remain on the job and will be paid under a 2009 state court decision.

The Wolf administration, however, will lose some spending authority that will affect public schools and a range of human services.