Budget brinksmanship leaves last-minute bills in doubt

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Republicans who control Pennsylvania’s Legislature are inserting some pet policy objectives into hundreds of pages of just-unveiled legislation with the annual budget deadline days away.

That’s forcing Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf into hard choices.

Measures advancing Thursday include a $34 billion budget package and policy changes for elections, schools and human services.

One GOP-backed provision could make Wolf decide between eliminating a cash assistance program for the poor and continuing state subsidies for Philadelphia hospitals.

Another provision packages money to help counties buy new voting machines with ending a ballot option that allows voters to select a straight-party ticket in elections. Another sprawling bill stalls any move by Philadelphia to ban plastic bags that many stores provide.

Wolf hasn’t said how he’ll handle those bills, including ones hotly opposed by Democratic lawmakers.

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