Penn. Supreme Court give legislators 4 months to come up with slot levy
January 21, 2017 7:45 AM
by Robert Mann
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Friday, in a 6-1 decision, gave legislators a four-month extension to come up with a new levy on slot machines. The ruling moves the court-imposed deadline from Jan. 23 until May 26.
Under the state's 2004 gambling law, casinos were required to pay at least 4 percent of gross slot machine revenue to their host communities as a local-share assessment. That includes 2 percent to counties and 2 percent or $10 million, whichever is greater, to municipalities.
However, the court, last September, said the assessment was a non-uniform tax imposed in violation of the state constitution. Legislators failed to come up with a solution in October before breaking for elections and the end of session.
Justice David Wecht, author of the high court's opinion in September, opposed the extension. In his dissent related to Friday’s ruling Wecht said the court shouldn't assist the General Assembly, which “lacked the political will” to find a remedy. “Stalled in a political traffic jam of their own making, the legislators ask this Court to build them a detour,” he said. “We should decline to do so.”
The tax revenue, now in political limbo, generates money for local governments to cover costs associated with gambling-related crime and increased police activity, expanded social services, and economic development projects.