Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (AP Photo/Marc Levy/File)

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (AP Photo/Marc Levy/File)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor backed off his veto threat Wednesday on the GOP’s $6.6 billion no-new-taxes spending package, ending nearly nine months of partisan gridlock that brought warnings that schools and agricultural extension offices could close.

The package will become law Sunday night, leaving Illinois as the only state still without a budget in place for the current fiscal year.

Gov. Tom Wolf had received increasing pressure from Democratic lawmakers to relent on this veto threat, and some raised the possibility of voting with majority Republicans to override Wolf.

Still, Wolf insisted that the budget remains out of balance and underfunds crucial needs, and that the state continues to need a major tax increase to wipe out a damaging long-term deficit.
Wolf called allowing the measure to become law “the right thing to do,” even though he refused to sign the document

The move by Wolf completes a $30 billion budget package, a 3 percent increase in spending. But it does so without a multibillion-dollar tax increase that Wolf had sought to deliver a record boost in aid to public schools and wipe out a long-term deficit that has damaged Pennsylvania’s credit rating.

And it comes at the expense of school districts, social services agencies and county governments having to spend millions of dollars borrowing money to cover their costs during the impasse.

The Republican-penned package delivers a $200 million boost to public school aid, half of what Wolf had originally sought, and a 5 percent increase for state-subsidized universities.

The sides now will have to negotiate a new, election-year budget for the fiscal year starting July 1. Top Republican lawmakers have not agreed to a tax increase.

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