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State lawmakers to continue work on budget through weekend

| Saturday, June 28, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

HARRISBURG — The Senate may add as much as $300 million in spending before it approves next year's budget, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi said Friday.

Pileggi, R-Delaware County, would not say where the money would come from, though he ruled out voting on a severance tax on natural gas.

The budget deadline is midnight Monday.

Pileggi said after a meeting with House and Senate Republican leaders that the Senate may finalize next year's budget this weekend. He estimated it would range from $29.1 billion to $29.4 billion.

A $29.1 billion budget passed Wednesday includes $380 million in projected revenue from liquor privatization. Selling the liquor stores isn't under consideration in the Senate, Pileggi said.

Republican-backed proposals to overhaul the state pension system in the Senate and House may move forward this weekend.

The pension plan in the Senate would replace the retirement plan offered to new state and public school employees with a defined contribution plan similar to a 401(k).

The Senate Appropriations Committee may vote on Sunday on an amendment to the plan, a committee staffer said. The altered plan would apply only to state-level elected officials, such as lawmakers, judges, the governor and lieutenant governor.

The proposal in the House would also apply only to new state and public school employees, who would be covered under a plan similar to the current one for income up to $50,000. After that level, employees' additional earnings would be covered by a 401(k)-style retirement plan. All employees would switch to the 401(k)-style plan after 25 years of service.

Gideon Bradshaw is a Capitol intern with the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents' Association.

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