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While Rendell orders more budget cuts, are PA Casinos the answer?


Yesterday, the state of Pennsylvania made national news but not for the right reasons.  Governor Ed Rendell announced that more budget cuts would be needed in the face of a sluggish economy.  At a press conference on Tuesday morning, the governor stated that without the cuts the state would end the fiscal year with a $450 million shortfall. 


Rendell then went on to urge the General Assembly to complete work on gaming legislation that will toss $250 million into the state kitty and without the gambling funds, more state layoffs would be inevitable. 


These comments have outraged the people of Philadelphia.  Many young Philadelphia residents have been strong supporters of President Obama and this announcement comes on the heels of our nation's leader stating that we are no longer in a recession.


Rendell has ordered a freeze of $170 million, recoup $50 million from prior-year unspent funds and will plan to draw $230 million from a year-end surplus originally projected at $354 million. That will reportedly  leave $124 million surplus as a cushion.


"In developing the current budget, we were very conservative in setting our revenue estimates and our spending levels. The wisdom of that course is now apparent, with the national economic recovery too weak to produce improvement in state revenues," Rendell said. "Pennsylvania will continue to restrain spending in response to economic uncertainty."


Many residents in the state of Pennsylvania are confused and dismayed with this announcement.  Some wonder if this is a ploy from the governor to push gaming in the state.  While gaming may be the answer, it may also create another problem because of the battle the state would have with Atlantic City.


When looking at the gaming industry, we need to remember that Atlantic City is less than an hour from Philadelphia and many residents take the trip over the Ben Franklin and Walt Whitman Bridge to go to their jobs.  With that being said, Atlantic City is hurting themselves with the potential of closing casinos and there are other problems.


When gaming came to Atlantic City in the late 70’s, there was a promise of a better Atlantic City- a safer town which was family oriented.  While jobs were created, the city grew deadly because dangerous areas were kept in place and now it is almost unsafe to stroll the Atlantic City Boardwalk


Will gaming create new jobs for the residents of Pennsylvania?  Maybe?  Will it create a more dangerous environment?  Most likely?  We need an economic solution in this state and we need it now.


Governor Rendell is speaking in opposition to what President Obama is saying.  Are we still in a recession or has the worst past?  Will gaming create new jobs or will it just hurt Atlantic City and create more violence?  Will people have the disposable income to run to a blackjack table after work and do the residents of Pennsylvania actually want to see that happen?


The only thing that is certain in these times is uncertainty.  Governor Rendell, President Obama, journalists and politicians across the tri-state area, I feel the need to ask where do we really stand with the economy? And if there is gaming legislation that is brought to Pennsylvania, will the families of Pennsylvania benefit? Or will an out of state corporation just reap the benefits of gaming while bringing a era of violence to a state that has suffered for far too long?


Frontpage photo from http://www.post-gazette.com