Revenue Package Relies on Gambling, Borrowing
Four months after enacting a spending plan, Gov. Wolf on Monday signed most of the bills passed by the Legislature in late October intended to balance the state’s $32 billion budget with gambling expansion and borrowing.
The gambling legislation includes authorization of 10 new mini-casinos, internet gambling and video gaming terminals at truck stops in an effort to close an approximately $2 billion budget deficit. Pennsylvania is second only to Nevada in gambling revenue. LAMPa had opposed the gambling expansion in favor of a severance tax on Marcellus shale production. Read more here about gambling in Pennsylvania.
The governor also signed legislation to borrow $1.5 billion against the proceeds of the state’s settlement with tobacco companies.
Another of the bills Wolf signed Monday will take $300 million out of dedicated funds for a variety of projects, including transportation to environmental clean-up. It is not clear what specific programs will be affected.
One of the items needed to finalize the budget — the education code, which authorizes the state’s public school spending — remains unsigned. Among the provisions in that bill is one that would allow school districts to lay off teachers for economic reasons based on performance evaluations, rather than seniority.