Wolf and Martz Give Testimony Regarding Slots Shutdown in Pennsylvania

As the Pennsylvania state budget issue dragged on Friday, July 6, 2007, the Republicans in the state Senate sought a court order to require Revenue Secretary, Tom Wolf, and another official from the cabinet to give a testimony about the planned shutdown of the state’s 5 slot machines casinos.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell commented that it is mandatory that the casinos shutdown on July 9, 2007 if a state budget is not approved, together with the state parks, driver’s license centers and other divisions that are not considered as important under the labor law.

Senate Republicans commented that a lot of casino jobs are at stake, and only 7 to 8 state revenue could keep them online. They want to ask Wolf and the Secretary of Administration, Joseph Martz, for their understanding of the law.

For Wolf, the co-owner of York’s Wolf Group, it is the first time that he has been involved in such a problem since Rendell appointed him for the position of Revenue Head in January.

A GOP dominated Senate committee made a subpoena on Thursday for Wolf and Martz, but 2 cabinet members did not attend on Friday when the Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee met. The Rendell administration has said that the 2 officials needed to work on budget issues and categorized the inquiry being made by the Senate as a political maneuvering.

Aside from that, Sen. Jane Earll, a Republican from Erie, whose district includes a casino facility, commented that she and Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati filed the papers before the Commonwealth Court seeking the court order for both Wolf and Martz to testify before the Senate sooner. Earll said that they need to find some answers before the closure on Monday.

Wolf could not be reached for comment, but Gov. Rendell’s spokesman, Chuck Ardo, said that the senators should be working to solve the budget issue rather than trying to find fault in Gov. Rendell’s administration.

The 5 slots establishments were the first to open under 2004 law that allowed 14 casinos across the state. Much of Pennsylvania’s proceeds from the slots profits are allocated for property relief.

Besides the Presque Isle Downs in Erie, other slots facilities in the state are the Philadelphia Park Racetrack and Casino, the Harrah’s Chester Casino and Racetrack in Delaware County, the Mohegan Sun at the Pocono Downs in Luzerne County and the Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Washington County.

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