What budget deadline?


Gov. Corbett on Tuesday said he is willing to miss the June 30 deadline to pass a state budget if more time means he can get his initiatives done.

“We need to get this done right rather than quickly,” Corbett said during an afternoon press conference in the Capitol.

“So if we are not able to do this budget by June 30, we are not able to do this budget by June 30,” Corbett said of meeting the deadline. “I am willing to be here. … No bluster. No threats. Just facts.”

Having said that, the Republican governor said he was optimistic that he and the GOP-led legislature can meet the deadline for the fiscal year, which begins July 1.

But he reiterated his position that he will not consider any proposals to raise new revenue — including a natural gas extraction tax — unless the legislature delivers on two of his priorities: reining in the skyrocketing cost of public employee pensions and privatizing the sale of wine and spirits.

As it stands, the two sides do not appear close to reaching an agreement on how close a $1.4 billion budget gap.

One of the fundamental disagreements is whether to raise taxes, a difficult decision for Corbett, a Republican who is up for reelection in the fall, and who ran in 2010 on a strict no-tax pledge.

The governor has said that he would consider measures that would raise revenues, but has stopped short of giving any specifics. Several legislative Republicans have said privately they have heard administration officials discussing a 10-cent increase in the state’s cigarette tax, which currently is $1.60 per pack.

Another option, supported by Democrats and, increasingly, a number of Republicans in the Senate, particularly from the Philadelphia suburbs, is a new tax on the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale.

There is a bill in the Senate, pushed by Sen. Edwin B. Erickson (R., Delaware) that would impose a 4-percent tax on drillers, which the senator has said would raise roughly $400 million in the next fiscal year.

-Angela Couloumbis

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