he bill raises taxes on cigarettes and smokeless tobacco and relies on new revenue from a proposal for the legalization, regulation and licensing of online gaming through existing land casino operators.
Observers note that the bill is a compromise that will not suit everyone, but that it is a first step toward meeting a deadline of midnight Thursday for passage of a 2016-17 state budget.
“I think we have an agreement with House Democrats. That doesn’t say that everybody is going to vote for this tomorrow,” Rep. William Adolph told local reporters Monday. “Quite frankly, I feel a lot better this year than I did last year at this time.”
It’s a budget driven by efforts to avoid anything resembling last year’s nine-month impasse between Governor Tom Wolf and the GOP House and Senate.
The proposal boosts state spending by $1.4 billion, almost 5 percent, but is significantly less than the $33.3 billion sought by the governor.
“The governor looks forward to continuing to work with the legislature, and as the budget moves through the process, he is hopeful all sides can reach an agreement,” said Wolf’s spokesman.
The legalization of online gambling and daily fantasy sports would boost revenues along with “wine privatization,” allowing up to four bottles of wine to be purchased from facilities with restaurant licenses, including grocery stores, said Steve Miskin, spokesman for House Republican leadership.