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HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf has 10 days to sign a $30.3 billion House-passed budget the Senate sent to him Wednesday or the measure becomes law without his signature.

The Senate voted 33-17 to send the bill to the governor in the 176th day of a budget impasse, putting the onus on Wolf as Pennsylvania was about to set a record Thursday for the longest budget stalemate in at least 40 years.

The budget would increase spending by 3.7 percent but not raise state taxes.

Wolf, a Democrat, did not say whether he would sign or veto the bill.

Elected officials must be driven by principles and core values. But it's also vital to pay attention to the messages being sent by public. Pennsylvania voters delivered a strong message to the Republican Party on Election Day, sweeping Democrats into control of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

This should send a clear message to Republicans in Harrisburg: It's time to compromise with Democrats and pass a state budget that fully addresses the needs of the Commonwealth.

One day after the state House torpedoed Gov. Wolf's plan to increase school funding through tax hikes, State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D., Phila.) said it takes two sides to compromise in order to pass a state budget.

And the minority chair of the Appropriations Committee suggested that Republicans - who control both the House and Senate - are trying to ensure that Wolf is a one-term governor.

"One of the problems is . . . that there is a new Republican Party operating in Pennsylvania," Hughes said at a news conference Thursday.

State funding for key human services and public education continues to shrink amid partisan politics in Harrisburg, State Sen. Vincent Hughes told the Urban Affairs Coalition (UAC) leadership Thursday.

Many of those programs are administered by the coalition, led by President Sharmain Matlock Turner, who thanked the Democratic Senate Appropriations chairman for staying responsive to the needs of the community.

Hughes appeared at the Wells Fargo bank administrative building in Center City for a Thursday morning meeting with UAC partners before heading back to Harrisburg.

Democrats are calling on the leadership in Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled legislature to drop their opposition to an extraction tax on natural gas, to break the state’s budget stalemate.

Several Democratic senators and state representatives gathered at Upper Dublin High School to call on Republican leaders to drop their opposition to a shale tax.

Democratic Senator Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia says shale drillers should pay.

State Sen. Vincent Hughes said Thursday that Democrats will not budge on two core issues in the 44-day state budget impasse: restoring the cuts to education funding and exercising a severance tax on the Marcellus Shale sector.

Mayor Michael Nutter and others celebrated the 50th anniversary of the signing of the federal Voting Rights Act in the mayor’s reception room with a proclamation. He noted voting rights were being challenged in several states with restrictive voter registration laws and in many communities voter turn-out remains at an all-time low.

The political debate over the state budget has hit a lull within the walls of the state Capitol, but it's very much alive on roadside billboards, radio ads, and in mailboxes.

"We're in a messaging war, but that's on both sides," said Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna) this week.

GOP ally Americans for Prosperity has radio ads and billboards blasting the governor for trying to raise taxes.

There's growing debate in Harrisburg about how to turn around troubled schools that have a long history of underperformance. As is typical when it comes to discussions about education, many experimental ideas have surfaced. In contrast, I suggest not a radical idea, but a plan that must be radical in its implementation:

A panel tasked with creating a fairer way of doling out state funding to school districts in Pennsylvania is expected to wrap up its work in early June, just weeks before the state budget deadline, when lawmakers expect a crush of issues to crowd the negotiation table.

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