Pennsylvania House Republican leaders today called off a vote planned for next week that would authorize a cigarette tax to fund Philadelphia schools in the coming year.
The bill would impose a two-dollar-a-pack tax on cigarettes to help close a $93 million budget gap that could delay the start of Philadelphia’s school year, leading to larger class sizes and employee layoffs.
Gov. Tom Corbett disagreed with the House decision and plans to talk with GOP leaders about their next move.
“I’m hopefully meeting with the Republican leadership on Monday,” he said. “At least, I have plans to be there on Monday, and talk with them in that regard. But you know we cannot allow these schools not to open.”
Lawmakers won’t return to the Capitol before September, but in the meantime, the House is asking Corbett to advance the money the schools need.
“We need to make sure that the school district of Philadelphia understands that this opportunity that’s been discussed for, what, a year and a half, comes to fruition,” Corbett said.
Philadelphia leaders say they can’t wait until September and need the tax authorization by mid-August.
The vote was called off because of disagreements over legislation additions, including a hotel tax in York County.