Pennsylvania borrowing remains on hold as the General Assembly may not vote until early next week on a table games bill, a measure that lawmakers must pass before approving the state’s fiscal 2010 Capital Debt Act.
The table games legislation would allow slots casinos and racetracks to begin offering blackjack, poker, and roulette. Lawmakers have disagreed on the tax rate to be applied to such gaming, with the House seeking a higher tax rate than what Senate lawmakers propose.
Legislation now sits with the House Appropriations Committee, which cancelled a meeting set for Tuesday. The committee’s next meeting has yet to be announced.
The legislature will not hold sessions today due to the Veterans Day holiday. There are no House sessions scheduled for Thursday or Friday.
“The earliest you would see a vote on it would be early next week ... just because of the size of the legislation and the sense of the money involved, they’re not going to want to rush and slam this through,” said Bob Canton, spokesman for House Speaker Keith McCall.
State officials are planning to issue via competitive bid roughly $800 million of general obligation debt — possibly including taxable Build America Bonds — in early December to help finance infrastructure projects at higher educational institutions, prisons, and a new convention center in Philadelphia, among other capital plans.
That bonding would be delayed if lawmakers fail to pass table games legislation this month.
As passage of the annual bond act is already more than four months overdue, postponing the $800 million GO transaction would delay or bring to a halt construction many capital projects.
Officials anticipate the table games legislation to generate $200 million of new revenue in fiscal 2010, which began July 1.
The anticipated revenue will go towards annual allocations to colleges, universities, and hospitals.
Gov. Edward Rendell signed the fiscal 2010 budget into law on Oct. 9, with the expectation that lawmakers would pass the table games legislation soon after.
In addition to the anticipated GO borrowing, Pennsylvania next month will sell $500 million to $1 billion of tax anticipation notes to help the state with cash-flow needs. The short-term borrowing does not require legislative approval.