Lawmakers hunker down for post-deadline legislative session

UPDATE: Cigarette tax passes the Senate 38-12. Fiscal code bill clears Senate 26-24.

With the June 30 deadline behind them and no signed budget, lawmakers returned to work Tuesday with several heavy lift items on the agenda.

Gov. Corbett late Monday said he would not sign the $29.1 billion budget without "meaningful" pension reform.

In the Senate lawmakers are expected to take final action on a bill that would allow Philadelphia to impose a $2-a-pack  cigarette tax in order to fund Philadelphia schools.

A preliminary vote on Monday suggests the it will pass easily in the Senate, but Steve Miskin, spokesman for House GOP leaders, told the Inquirer that the lower chamber has no plans to take it up.

The Senate also on Monday took a stab at addressing the pension crisis by passing a bill unanimously that would require all elected officials to switch to a 401k-style retirement plan. That bill is under debate in the House where Rep. Mike Tobash (R., Schuylkill), the author of a broader pension proposal is seeking to add his language that would incorporate all government and school employees into the pension plan. 

The Senate also is expected to approve the fiscal code which contains language necessary to implement the budget and give approval for funding for the "non-preferred" colleges, Temple, Pitt, Penn State, Lincoln and the Penn Vet School.

But an early skirmish was breaking out in the Senate late ths morning and Republicans were unable to get the 26 votes needed to move the fiscal code.



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