Pennsylvania House of Representatives Passes Financial Plan

by Kyle Miller

Pennsylvania House of RepresentativesThe House of Representatives in Pennsylvania has passed a financial plan to repair budget deficit, that includes casino expansion options.

All eyes have been on the state of Pennsylvania over the past few months in regards to what legislators will do with expanding casino gaming and meeting the budget deficit. Lawmakers have been unable to come to any decisions this year when it comes to what will be allowed as far as expanding within the gambling industry and how the much-needed funds will be generated from whatever expansions are allowed. This month, lawmakers were back in session and the House of Representatives of the state have been able to pass a financial plan that will assist the $2.2 billion budget gap, including casino expansion options.

House Republican Support

The financial plan was passed late last night and was only supported by republicans in the House. They hold the majority so the plan was able to be approved. September marks the third month in which the state has been at a budget impasse and Governor Tom Wolf had stated that options are running out as to what needs to be done in order to find the much-needed funds for the budget issues. Reportedly, Wolf feels the plan of the House is irresponsible and that hopefully lawmakers in the House and Senate will be able to secure a plan by Monday that everyone can agree on.

What’s The Plan?

Earlier in the month, reports surfaced that the House GOP caucus was trying to create their own plan for the budget deficit. Rumors started on this subject even before lawmakers were back in session. The plan was first introduced with language that was the total opposite of a package that had been approved by the Senate. A proposal was removed by the House that would have seen Pennsylvania borrow money in exchange for future revenues contributed based on the 1998 multistate agreement with the tobacco companies of the United States.

The original plan of the GOP did not include a gambling expansion, such as allowing daily fantasy sports or online gambling. It was proposed instead that funds could be found from dormant accounts that were not included in the current budget. Such accounts contain money that is to be used for environmental protections, economic development and public transportation.

This plan was not supported by Governor Wolf as well as senators plus representatives in the House. The final plan now includes provisions for borrowing funds from the tobacco settlement. As much as $1 billion can be borrowed from this settlement. The plan also includes using $600 million from various accounts and potentially expanding the casino industry to provide additional tax revenue.

The Senate will now have to review and vote on the proposal of the House. It is most certain that the plan will not be passed within the Senate in its current form. Senators and Governor Wolf have shown opposition to this plan.

It is a positive that the House did include casino expansion in this plan. It could signal that representatives are now in support of gambling expansion which could include DFS, online gambling, video gaming terminals, etc. The main area of contention between the House and Senate is what should be allowed in the state if a gambling expansion were approved. With the House adding this to their plan, it is a step in the right direction. However, there is still a long way to go as the majority of lawmakers in the state have to be on the same page when it comes to what should be legalized within an expansion.