House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo ruled out Thursday the possibility of the House tapping into future gambling license fees to balance next year’s state budget, saying it is still too uncertain when the potential pot of $280 million will become available.
DeLeo also said he was unsure when the House would unveil a redraft of a health care cost containment bill Governor Deval Patrick filed more than a year ago, but guaranteed that a bill would emerge this session.
Senate President Therese Murray had suggested earlier Thursday that gambling license fees could be available as soon as next spring to fund workforce development initiatives.
That would include training for workers displaced by the major health care policy changes being discussed.
After posing for photos with the Division 4 champion St. Mary’s High School basketball team, DeLeo said that the budget expected to be released next week by the House Ways and Means Committee would not include gambling money.
“No, we can’t,’’ DeLeo said. “I would suppose that’s probably going to be next year, or maybe if we’re lucky sometime in a [supplemental budget] this year, but right now, no.
“We can’t include it,’’ he continued. “We don’t have an exact time on when they may be going through the whole process in terms of making decisions, so it will not be in the budget. Bottom line, no.’’
‘I would suppose that’s probably going to be next year, or maybe if we’re lucky sometime in a [supplemental budget] this year.’Robert A. DeLeo House speaker
The Gaming Commission, whose membership was fully established late last month, has yet to hold its first public meeting, and commission chairman Stephen Crosby has already raised questions about whether the October deadlines to solicit and accept applications for proposed casino resorts can be met.
Under the November 2011 gambling law, successful bidders for each of the three casino licenses would be required to pay an $85 million fee, and the winner of the single available slot-parlor license would be required to pay a $25 million licensing fee.
With Representative Steven Walsh, Democrat of Lynn and chairman of the House Health Care Financing Committee, at his side, DeLeo described the timetable for releasing a health care bill as fluid.
Asked whether he could specify when a bill might be made public, DeLeo said, “No, except to tell you the fact that we are working on it and we will see a bill.’’