Pennyslvania Gov. Tom Wolf said he wants to see the statehouse act on a casino tax fix with an impact of more than $100 million, in a recent interview.
What Wolf said on casino taxes
Wolf is one of many government officials in the state that wants the casino host tax to be fixed. That comes after the state’s Supreme Court ruled that a tax that benefits jurisdictions that host casinos is unconstitutional earlier this year.
Wolf met with journalists with the Erie newspaper; Erie is home to Presque Isle Downs & Casino.
“What we really need is the Legislature to do what the Supreme Court asked them to do,” Wolf said during an hourlong meeting with the Erie Times-News Editorial Board last week, “and come up with something that does pass constitutional muster.
“I don’t have the answers,” Wolf said. “But I will work with the Legislature to try to come up with (answers).”
Why the PA casino tax fix is needed
The PA Supreme Court gave the legislature until the end of January to fix the tax after its ruling. But so far, legislation has not been passed and is sidelined until 2017.
Jurisdictions like Erie stand to face significant budget gaps if the state government doesn’t fix the tax and find constitutional ways to funnel tax revenue to casino jurisdictions.
Some municipalities — like Pittsburgh and Rivers Casino — have worked on stopgap measures in case the legislature doesn’t act.
Decoupled casino tax or not?
The big question on the casino tax fix is the push and pull between the House and Senate.
Both houses have passed a casino tax fix. The difference between them? The Senate passed a standalone tax fix, while the House added a massive gambling package to the tax. That includes language that would legalize Pennsylvania online casinos.
Right now, the two chambers appear to be locked in a standoff. Will the changes in the House and Senate from the November elections — and the new calendar year — break the impasse? Stay tuned in January to find out.