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Senate starts budget Saturday early

Published by Karen Langley on .

The Pennsylvania Senate was busy last night, endorsing Medicaid expansion in committee and private wine and liquor sales in an initial floor vote. And all before 2 a.m.

After months focused on where Gov. Tom Corbett stands on Medicaid expansion (against it, unless the feds let Pennsylvania change its program), a Senate panel last night voted 9-2 for the state to apply for expansion, subject to certain conditions.

But the big question on the Senate side has been the liquor privatization bill that Corbett and the House really, really want. After days of private caucus meetings in which Republicans tried to get 26 members to support a plan, leaders got all 27 on board for a 1:20 a.m. vote.

Needless to say, this continued to set up a full weekend. The House is expected today to take up its version of a transportation funding plan, which would need approval by the Senate, while liquor and Medicaid need further Senate votes before they could go to the House.

(While these things aren't due Sunday with the budget -- as several legislators have pointed out in recent days -- Corbett has asked for them then. And incorporating the annual deadline is one way difficult legislation reaches the governor.)

The state budget itself? It has yet to see real action in the Senate, where Appropriations Chairman Jake Corman said yesterday that budget negotiators continue to look for revenue for the 2014-15 fiscal year. Corman said there is still time get a budget by the deadline tomorrow night, but he noted the hour.

"It's obviously getting late," he said. "This should be done by now. But it's not, and it's frustrating." 

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