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The Latest: Pennsylvania budget talks hang on gambling bill

July 8, 2017

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The Latest on Pennsylvania budget negotiations (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

Pennsylvania’s 8-day-old budget stalemate is hanging on closed-door negotiations over legislation to authorize another big gambling expansion in the nation’s No. 2 commercial casino state.

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati said Saturday that there’s “more or less” an agreement on gambling legislation. However, a spokesman for House Republican leader Dave Reed says there are no agreements.

Anti-tax lawmakers are hoping for hundreds of millions of dollars from the gambling industry to help state government close a yawning deficit.

Discussions have focused on a provision allowing Pennsylvania’s licensed casinos to bid on licenses for up to 10 more mini-casinos in farther-flung areas. That’s after Senate support was lacking for a House-backed measure to allow slot-machine-style video terminals at thousands of bars, truck stops and private clubs.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has until midnight Monday to make a decision on the main appropriations bill in a $32 billion budget package.


9:30 a.m.

Pennsylvania lawmakers are returning to the Capitol on the eighth day of a budget stalemate as they await word from negotiators in talks over paying for a $32 billion spending package.

The unusual weekend voting session Saturday was expected to be a sidelight to closed-door negotiations between leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

Wolf has until midnight Monday to sign or veto the main appropriations bill, or let it become law. He isn’t saying what he’ll do if lawmakers don’t pass legislation to raise $2 billion-plus to patch a projected deficit and state government’s biggest post-recession shortfall.

Talks are stuck on disagreements over expanding casino-style gambling. Wolf proposed a $1 billion tax package, but Republicans are rejecting that in favor of more gambling and borrowing.

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