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Sep 18, 7:48 PM EDT

The Latest: Wolf sees downgrade without budget deal soon


HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -- The Latest on Pennsylvania's budget stalemate (all times local):

7 p.m.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf says it's urgent that he and state lawmakers end a fight over patching a $2 billion budget deficit to avoid a downgrade to Pennsylvania's battered credit rating.

Wolf said in a statement Monday evening that, without a responsible budget deal, state government also will face more disruptions in programs and payments.

Wolf and leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature spoke by telephone over the weekend, amid a three-month stalemate over how to fully fund a $32 billion budget bill lawmakers approved June 30.

Senate Republicans say they're considering changes to the House GOP's no-new-taxes plan that passed last week. In July, the Senate passed a $500 million-plus tax package that hits utility customers and natural gas production.

The chamber's ranking senator, Republican Joe Scarnati of Jefferson County, says the state will continue to be unable to pay its bills in the future if it doesn't get more money.

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3 p.m.

The Pennsylvania Senate is back in Harrisburg on day 80 of an increasingly ugly budget fight.

The Senate's chief piece of business Monday was sorting through the House's no-new-taxes plan approved last week amid a three-month stalemate over plugging a projected $2.2 billion budget hole.

The chamber's ranking senator, Republican Joe Scarnati of Jefferson County, says it's imperative to work quickly. Scarnati notes that the state is in a bad financial spot without enough money flowing in to pay every bill on time.

The Republican-controlled House and Senate largely agree on borrowing a large chunk of the cash, a practice frowned on by public finance professionals. But Scarnati's suggesting the deficit-strapped state still needs to raise taxes so it can pay bills in the future, a position that's supported by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

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