PA-BGT: Lawmakers Still Trying to Crack Pension Code

DiceState lawmakers need to hit the jackpot to balance the 2016-17 budget, but were in no mood on Tuesday to expand internet and video gambling in the Keystone State.

Gov. Tom Wolf and the state legislature are on the ultimate cold streak when it comes to budgeting, with next year’s spending plan almost certain to miss the June 30th deadline.

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives rejected two amendments to legalize iGaming (internet gambling) and VGTs (video gaming terminals) in truck stops and establishments that hold liquor licenses.

Amendment 619 to House Bill 1925 failed by an 81-107 vote, while Amendment 622 failed 66-122. Interestingly, as Kevin Zwick of Capitolwire reports, the vote was not split down party lines, but instead by region.

The expanded gambling was projected to bring in additional $300 million annually, which was to be diverted to the Department of Education to pay public school employee pensions.

Casinos would have been given the option to purchase liquor licenses to serve alcohol 24 hours a day for an additional fee under the new measures.

After the votes, confusion arose among some state lawmakers as to which amendment was being held for a vote, so both will be reconsidered by the House as early as Wednesday, according to the report.

Pension reform is one of the top priorities for the GOP this budgeting season, with public pension liabilities ballooning out of control over the last few years.

The state is facing a projected unfunded liability of almost $6 billion this year, up from just $1 billion in 2010, driving school property taxes up and forcing districts to cut programs in order to keep up with their pension payments.

State pension systems are set to take center stage again this year, though it seems lawmakers are unwilling to kick that can any further down the road this time around.

Last week, the House State Government Committee approved a “stacked hybrid” pension plan, similar to a plan Gov. Wolf eventually warmed up to last year, Charles Thompson of the Patriot-News reports.

The State House is scheduled to consider several gambling and pension bills on Wednesday.

4 Responses

  1. Okay, Here’s the rub. PA has a $50 BILLION dollar Pension shortfall. And these f’n idiots in Harrisburg think they can come up with the dough by expanding gambling and getting the money off the backs of the suckers who will play these loser games? For all the people with gambling addictions this will just add more venues for them to speed their way to bankruptcy and divorce court as well as being arrested for theft and embezzlement.

    The politicians need to raise taxes to solve this problem and that means tax shale gas extraction, raise the income taxes , raise gas taxes, raise utility taxes and whatever other sources of revenue they can generate to put the state on a sound fiscal footing. Sure, it’s not pretty but it is reality. When are these morons going to wake up and make the hard decisions. The school district across the state are bankrupt. Medical costs for state retirees are approaching $1 BILLION dollars a year and there is no measures in place to pay for all this largess. No when are these idiots going to wake up and generate the revenue to pay for all of this? When?

    Wake up you f’n crybabies and get the job done!

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