Pa. Senate in late-night session on budget

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"This has been a tough year, and there is not a perfect solution to this," Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre) told reporters Sunday.

HARRISBURG - The state Senate returned to the Capitol Sunday night to begin considering portions of the budget agreement with Gov. Wolf, even though the deal still appeared to be near collapse.

A key Senate committee voted Sunday evening to approve the $30.8 billion deal Wolf has struck with the Republican-controlled legislature - despite the House's unexpected admission Saturday that there were not enough votes in that chamber to pass it.

The political curve ball draped the Capitol in uncertainty - some even called it chaos - but senators nonetheless plowed forward with their intention to vote on the deal with the governor in the hopes that it can quickly resolve differences with the House.

"This has been a tough year, and there is not a perfect solution to this," Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre) told reporters Sunday.

"But I think we got to a place where we got something good done," Corman said, adding of his House colleagues: "I hope they see that."

Corman said a final vote on the deal on the floor of the Senate could happen as early as Tuesday.

The tentative budget agreement calls for spending an additional $350 million on public schools, $60 million on early childhood education, and $50 million on special education. The deal also would make changes to the state's pension and liquor systems.

To raise the new dollars, the two sides have looked to extend the state's six percent sales tax to goods and services that currently aren't taxed. They have not said what those would be.

They have also eyed raising the sales tax. Both options have been met with pushback.

Republicans who control the House said Saturday they could not muster enough support for the deal - this after leaders had agreed to it in the budget negotiating room.

A House committee had scheduled a vote on a scaled-down - and competing - spending plan Sunday, but abruptly canceled the vote.

House GOP spokesman Steve Miskin said House members still were working on the details in the plan. He said he expects a vote on it as early as Monday.

The state has been operating without a budget since July 1, which has held up state aid to counties, public schools and nonprofits that provide critical social services. Many have been forced to take out loans to stay open.

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