Clock ticking on PA budget

Midnight deadling still looming

Clock ticking on PA Budget

HARRISBURG, Pa. - The clock is ticking.

Governor Tom Corbett has just a few more hours to sign the state budget into law.
And one part of that bill that's still up for debate has a huge impact on the Lehigh Valley.

The budget deal is done, but before the governor will sign it, there are a few last-minute items lawmakers have to vote on.

One of them is big -- a bill that could get Allentown's beleaguered hockey arena back on track.

Under the dome, it's coming down to the wire -- just hours left for Governor Tom Corbett to sign the new budget that starts July 1st.

"The governor can actually sign the budget at any time. He has the budget. What we are working on now are the trailing bills," said Republican Senator Bob Mensch.

One bill still awaiting a final vote tonight is the state fiscal code -- important because it could finally get Allentown's lawsuit-plagued downtown hockey arena back on track.

"We have a hole in the ground in Allentown and that hockey arena needs to be built," said Democrat Senator Lisa Boscola.

The $220 million project has been delayed for months since Allentown's suburbs sued because some of their tax money is going toward construction.

The bill up for a final vote Saturday night would take all suburban tax dollars out of the equation.

Opponents have indicated they will drop the lawsuit if the bill passes.

"So it's Allentown-based only. No surrounding municipalities have to put any of their earned income tax into the project. And if anyone has up to this point, they are to get it back," Boscola said.

Late Saturday afternoon, the PA House approved the fiscal code, changing Allentown's arena law.  The State Senate is expected to vote later Saturday night.

Senator Pat Browne does not expect any changes to the parts that deal with the Allentown arena.  If it passes Saturday night, Browne hopes major construction could start by August.

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