On Thursday, 10th August, House Leader Dave Reed expressed concerns on the behalf of the Republicans that Pennsylvania may stay in the big budget gap for some more weeks, pointing out that the Senate’s proposed budget bill includes unreasonable increase of some utiliy taxes.
On 30th June, the state’s lawmakers finally passed a $32 billion budget-plan, but they could not agree on proper ways to fund it. It is not a secret that for some time Pennsylvania is suffering one of the biggest budget deficiencies. According to specialists, the state’s financial situation has never been that bad since the recession.
The lawmakers found some sources of additional revenues to fund the budget plan, but the House and the Senate could not reach a decision regarding certain topics like gambling. Thus, the two chambers remained stuck in the financial gap, trying to compromise on certain issues. Almost 2 months later, the lawmakers still do not have a particular plan, which places the state on the edge of an economic crisis.
But what seems to bother Mr. Reed is the rise of the taxes. He told that the amount of money, which the local government will reap from the higher taxes is just the same as from the taxes generated by video-gaming terminals (VGTs). House Democrats consider that the increase of the taxes is a sufficient measure to cope with the situation.
In fact, namely VGTs became the Apple of Discord between the two chambers. The House passed a gaming bill, which allows VGTs to be installed in liquor establishments. The idea was supported as an additional source of income for the local government. The Senate, on the other hand, opposed the idea, placing their concerns that the video betting machines may “steal” the customers of the land-based casinos, which finally managed to emerge on the surface. What is more is that the already established brick-and-mortar is a steady and sure income for the treasury.
The lack of a realistic and efficient solution may have very bad consequences for Pennsylvania. Mr. Reed placed hopes that the lawmakers will find the most appropriate solution for funding the budget plan by the end of August, as any more delays can sharply deteriorate the situation of the state. While the lawmakers are trying to find a consensus and come up with a plan of action, the legalization of the online gambling industry seems to be even a more lucrative perspective with every passing day.
It was reported that the next legislative session is set to take place on 11th September, but the legislators remain on standby due to the delicate situation.