GOP leaders aren’t embracing gambling proposals

GOP legislative leaders aren’t embracing proposal that expand gambling in Minnesota. Lawmakers introduced a bill that would allow for a Casino to be operated at the Block E development in downtown Minneapolis. There are also efforts to allow slot machines at the state’s two horse tracks and a bill that allows for slot machines in bars.

Governor Dayton has said he’s open to revenue raisers provided the state receives half of the funding generated from the casino. GOP legislative leaders, however, aren’t interested.

Senate Republican Majority Leader Amy Koch of Buffalo said her caucus does not have a position on the casino bill or any other proposal to expand gambling. Koch argues that new gambling revenue is not needed to help erase the state’s projected $5 billion budget deficit.

“We absolutely do not believe we need new revenues to fix this budget,” Koch said. “We think we need to live within out means, and what’s in the checkbook is what’s in the checkbook, and we can budget to that.”

GOP House Majority Leader Matt Dean also says his caucus isn’t interested in relying on gambling funds to help erase the state’s budget deficit.

“We understand that there are people on both sides of the aisle who are very interested in this issue,” Dean said. “But that is separated from our budget issues which we have intentionally put forward without the necessity for revenue from gaming.”

The Senate State Government Innovation and Veterans Budget and Policy Committee was scheduled to take up the so-called Racino bill but Chair Mike Parry said the hearing will not happen. The House Jobs and Economic Development Committee is scheduled to take up the Racino bill tomorrow.

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