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'The Wise Thing To Do': Pennsylvania Lawmakers Set To Approve Temporary $25 Billion Budget To Fund Government For Next 5 Months

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Pennsylvania lawmakers are set to approve a stop-gap budget that will fund the government for the next five months. What this will do is fund the government at current levels until lawmakers can assess the damage that the coronavirus has had on the state budget.

A temporary budget process has never happened before.

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"I think it's probably the sensible thing to do, the wise thing to do. It's unprecedented, but at the same time we're in an unprecedented environment," Democratic state Sen. Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia said.

Lawmakers in Harrisburg are taking extraordinary measures to keep government running. This is in the aftermath of statewide stay-at-home orders.

"We're looking towards Washington, D.C. to find out what they intend to provide to states and municipalities and school districts in direct assistance to help fill the budget holes," Hughes said.

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The Independent Fiscal Office estimates the coronavirus created a $5 billion shortfall over the next two fiscal years. The temporary $25.8 billion package does not include new taxes and maintains current spending levels. The bill passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in a vote of 103 to 99 on Tuesday.

"You can't give this budget an A or a F," said Democratic state Rep. Jordan Harris of Philadelphia. "It gets an incomplete."

The temporary budget would be in effect until Nov. 30. School districts will be funded at current levels. Also, there are no tax increases.

"At some point in time, they're going to have to raise revenue, even though they've avoided doing that for a number of years. Government can't run without revenue," Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said.

Some lawmakers say that debate should be happening now, not after the November elections.

"Looking to push this to after the November election really just kicks the can down the road when we know we have a fiscal cliff coming," Harris said. "We know we have a budget deficit that we should be addressing in the best possible manner right now."


Gov. Tom Wolf says the process isn't complete. The Pennsylvania Senate is set to vote on the temporary budget later this week.

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