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State budget negotiators, who have been meeting behind closed doors in their attempts to pound out a budget for over five weeks, met this week with Governor Robert Casey. The negotiators presented Casey with their tentative spending proposal for the current fiscal year last week, and also began discussing the rudiments of their tax plan with the governor. Last week, several negotiators said they hoped for final action on the spending proposal by this week. However, things did not progress as quickly as legislators hoped. Casey asked for extra time Friday to peruse the spending proposal, and called for separate meetings with Republicans and Democrats at the beginning of this week to debate the plans. Casey did make some initial judgments on the lawmakers' proposals, though. Last week, he expressed concern over the $14 billion spending proposal's size, which is somewhat larger than the one Casey initially proposed in February. As part of Casey's original plan, the University's state appropriation would have been slashed by $18.6 million. State lawmakers revised this proposal in June, recommending the University only lose $5 million. But this week Casey indicated he was willing to budge somewhat on tax issues in order to fund the proposal. Legislators said Casey would not oppose a tax increase even larger than the $2.8 billion plan lawmakers put forth, if it would help avoid a deficit and further tax increases next year. Since next year is an election year, many state politicians hope to put this year's budget mess behind them and keep it behind them through their 1992 campaigns. Many state employees and state aid recipients, meanwhile, have vowed that the lawmakers will never forget this year's impasse. Numerous groups continue to stage noisy noontime rallies throughout the Harrisburg capitol complex on a daily basis. Today marks the 32nd day and the beginning of the second month of the state budget stalemate. The Commonwealth lost its authority to spend money on July 1, and some state employees have now gone without pay for a month. Budget negotiators are again stressing that a budget solution is just around the corner, and some said this week that they hope for a spending plan vote on the House and Senate floors within the several days. The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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