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After Inaugural Festivities, Wolf Must Now Face $2.3 Billion Deficit

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Tuesday was mostly a fun day for Gov. Tom Wolf: getting sworn into office, followed by a standing room-only celebration gala at the Hershey Lodge.

But the governor admitted Tuesday night to his celebrating guests that it would be a short-lived celebration.

"Tomorrow we have to get to work. We've got to actually deliver on that promise. That's when the hard work really begins," Wolf told the crowd.

One of those promises -- required by the state Constitution -- is a balanced budget.

Last week, Wolf's budget commission predicted a $2.3 billion deficit when the state's fiscal year starts on July 1.

Other than a tax on Marcellus Shale drilling, Wolf has previously ruled out tax increases, as he told KDKA political editor Jon Delano in December.

"I don't expect to balance the budget on the back of any increased tax," Wolf said at the time.

But even to get a drilling tax, Wolf will need Republican support, so, no surprise, at his inauguration, Wolf reached out to Republicans who control the legislature.

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"We need to work together, and we need to get started. We have to respect each other's ideas. We have to respect each other's values. We have to believe that none of us has all the answers, but that together we can find an approach that will work," declared Wolf.

Wolf likes to say his business background is conducive to this kind of negotiating, but former Gov. Tom Ridge, a Republican, says Wolf's lack of political experience could hurt.

"It's probably a mixed bag, to be quite candid with you. The fact that he has never been involved in the give and take of the politics of governing -- and there is a give and take -- you don't take politics out of how you govern," noted Ridge.

Wolf will submit his tax and budget plan to the legislature in February.

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