State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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Independent of legislature, Dauphin County acts to keep casino money flowing

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Nov 2, 2016 5:19 PM
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Dauphin County commissioners and casino representatives sign off on the plan to keep casino money available to the county. (Photo by Katie Meyer/WITF)

(Harrisburg) -- Casino tax revenue is in jeopardy for several counties after the legislature failed to fix a tax law the state Supreme Court declared unconstitutional in September.

The ruling will cut off 142 million dollars in casino money starting January 26.

But Dauphin County has come up with an alternative solution to keep the funds flowing, and it could influence others to do the same.

The county gets about 14 million dollars annually from local share taxes on the Hollywood Casino. That money plays a significant role in funding various building projects and public services, like fire stations.

County Commissioner Jeff Haste said having that money available makes a big difference.

"These projects are projects that some could say someone else could do them, [but] the reality of it is they would not have gotten done in many cases," he said. "Or if they had been done, taxpayers would have footed the bill."

So the county, the casino, and Penn National Gaming--which runs the casino--have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that'll keep the money flowing in until at least June 30.

Republican Representative John Payne, who chairs the House Gaming Oversight Committee, said he thinks lawmakers can come up with a solution by then.

"I know of other counties that are in negotiations with their racetracks and gaming parlors to try to come up with something also," he said, adding, "I think what most of them will do is they'll get a copy of this agreement and look and see if they can't copy something that's already there."

Payne said he knows other counties are already considering similar solutions.

If the legislature doesn't fix the law by June 30, Dauphin County commissioners say the memorandum will be extended to keep the funding stream open for the rest of the year.

Published in State House Sound Bites

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