Pennsylvania Legislature passes tax package

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A $1.3 billion revenue package is through the Pennsylvania Legislature and on its way toward the desk of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 28-22 on Wednesday, minutes after the House voted 116-75 on a just-unveiled tax bill negotiated between Wolf and top lawmakers. Wolf's signature could happen within hours.

Budget negotiators say the election-year tax increase is necessary to balance the state's deficit-riddled budget.

The package is split between tax increases and one-time infusions of money, including a $200 million loan from a state medical malpractice insurance fund.

It includes a $1 per-pack tax increase on cigarettes, to $2.60 per pack, and an extension of the state's 6 percent sales tax to digital downloads of music, videos, books and apps. It also counts on $100 million from pending legislation to make Pennsylvania the fourth state to legalize online gambling.

State government is operating under a $31 billion spending bill that lacks the tax collections to sustain it.

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