Democratic lawmakers want voice in lottery, liquor, budget talks
By Brad Bumsted
Published: Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, 1:12 p.m.
HARRISBURG — Before they will consider fast-paced electronic games such as keno, Senate Democrats want to make sure they are included in negotiations on changes to the Pennsylvania Lottery and that revenue goes toward existing lottery-funded programs to benefit senior citizens, the caucus leader said Tuesday.
Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, said he doesn't want money from gambling expansion going toward lottery privatization as Gov. Tom Corbett has proposed.
Despite Corbett's decision last month not to renew a contract with a British firm, lottery privatization is an issue the governor and legislative leaders likely will push in 2014, Costa said.
Costa said he opposes letting a firm manage the lottery, especially an overseas company. He'd consider an advisory role for an outside firm but said state lottery staff should run keno if it's approved.
There's a lot of speculation circulating at the Capitol on issues that may emerge this session, including one that liquor privatization soon could be considered, Costa said. A push by Corbett and House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Marshall, stalled in July.
House and Senate Republicans and the Governor's Office are talking about the state store system but there is no tentative agreement, said House GOP spokesman Stephen Miskin.
Privately, some GOP lawmakers say they're optimistic a scaled-back version may emerge. That is most likely a hybrid bill that would keep some of the 600 state stores but allow expanded private sales of wine and liquor, legislative staffers say.
Republicans control the Senate with 27 of 50 seats but they need Democratic votes on some issues.
The lottery provides money for senior programs from low-cost prescription drugs to rebates on property tax and rent.
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware County, has suggested using keno revenue for a new program to freeze seniors' school property taxes.
An $800 million state budget deficit and a re-election year for Corbett, whose public opinion numbers are low, creates “desperation” among Republicans in the legislature, said Sen. Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia.
Hughes, ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he wants to make sure legislation doesn't get slammed through to meet political agendas. Hughes is using a deficit figure from the Independent Fiscal Office, saying the governor's $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion figure is too high.
Mike Barley, Corbett's campaign manager, said Senate Democrats would “be OK (with the agenda) if it included a tax increase. Legislators and the administration will be looking at different ways to fix the budget (gap.) All I hear from them is ‘raise taxes,' not ‘cut spending.'”
Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol reporter. Reach him at 717-787-1405 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Keisel might be at end of Steelers career
- LaBar: Bryan winning world title at WrestleMania 30 is only option
- Police continue to investigate 3-year-old’s injuries in Butler
- Penguins’ leads evaporate in loss to Sharks
- Sharks praise ex-teammate, newest Penguins player Goc
- Martin would consider extending stay with Pirates
- Valley’s Fields penalized for prematch handslap, leading to loss
- McKeesport middle school student struck by dump truck dies in hospital
- Turnpike’s chief complaince officer resigns, cites family matters
- Qualifications of Peduto nominee for building inspection chief come up short
- Uniontown man sentenced to 12 years for burglaries