Gambling-Unfriendly Pennsylvania House Budget Deficit Plan May Get First Vote on September 12

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives returned from its summer recess on Monday. House lawmakers as well as their counterparts from the Senate are faced with the task of putting an end to a prolonged budget stalemate.

During the Monday session, Republican Representatives had the first chance to discuss as a majority a recently presented budget plan that would divert funds from public transportation and environmental improvement accounts to close a large budget gap. House GOP lawmakers behind the new budget bill pointed out that it is aimed at preventing the state Legislature from raising taxes to generate much-needed revenue for Pennsylvania’s economy. Said accounts money are to be siphoned from, if this latest plan is approved, are believed to be dormant at present.

The new bill has already faced opposition from House Democrats as well as from state Gov. Tom Wolf, also a Democrat.

It is believed that a vote on the House GOP budget plan could be called today. However, media and political analysts are not that certain that it will gain the necessary support. House Republicans discussed the plan behind closed doors for over three hours on Monday, and reports from the Keystone State suggest that House GOP members might themselves be split on the proposed cure to Pennsylvania’s budget ailment.

The state Legislature sealed a $32-billion budget with Gov. Wolf earlier this summer. The current financial year began on July 1 and the Governor’s administration has ever since been borrowing money from different funds to spare the state from a major financial catastrophe. However, Pennsylvania’s top official has warned lawmakers that his office has run out of options and that a solution should be found as quickly as possible. It is believed that as from this Friday, September 15, the state will not be able to make due payments on time.

A separate plan emerged and was approved by the Senate earlier this summer. The Senate budget bill aims to raise around $2.2 billion mainly from a 1998 multistate agreement with national tobacco companies, raised taxes, and a massive gambling expansion. While the plan was approved by Gov. Wolf, it is quite unpopular in the House and chances are slim that it will gain enough support in the Legislature’s lower chamber.

Where Does Gambling Stand in the House GOP Budget Plan?

The House Republican bill actually does not include any form of gambling expansion, unlike its Senate counterpart. As mentioned above, the Senate budget plan calls for a sweeping reform in the state’s gambling industry that will see the legalization of online gambling and daily fantasy sports, among other things.

If, by any chance, the House GOP bill gains momentum and the necessary approval, this would put an end to iGaming legalization hopes or at least for this year. The good news for online gambling supporters is that that particular plan seems to be lacking in popularity even among representatives of Pennsylvania’s Republican caucus.

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