By Andy Metzger
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE -- Facing the sudden reality that Massachusetts voters could scrap the 2011 gaming law he authored, House Speaker Robert DeLeo said Wednesday he would give "great weight" to the results of the statewide ballot question, but could not say whether a repeal vote would be the final word on gaming.
"I really couldn't answer that. I think my past history has shown obviously I pay great respect to what the voters decide. But as of right now with the Supreme Court decision and with the decision of the voters, obviously that would carry great weight with me," DeLeo told reporters after a caucus Wednesday.
>>> For video of DeLeo's remarks, go to: http://www.statehousenews.com/video/14-06-25deleo/ <<<
The Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday ruled that a ballot initiative that would repeal the law is eligible for this year's ballot, and DeLeo said he plans to spend the coming months speaking about what he said has been called "one of the strongest casino bills in the country."
The Winthrop Democrat said the casino law, which was signed by Gov. Deval Patrick, will create 15,000 jobs and provide funding for education and infrastructure projects.
DeLeo said the state budget is relying up $54 million from expanded gambling. "We've already started to use it and to depend upon it," he said.
"Obviously should the voters decide otherwise in November, we would have to make some difficult decisions in terms of cuts that would probably have to be made at that time," DeLeo said. "That's one of the issues I thought about when I woke up this morning, actually."
The budget included $53 million from licensing fees and $20 million in anticipated revenue from the slot parlor in the works in Plainville.
The group Repeal the Casino Deal has ripped the legislative campaign mounted by casino law backers, and says the law was approved not because it was a good idea but due to "deep-pocketed lobbyists, special interests, political pressure, bogus numbers, inflated projections, misinformation and confusion over federal Indian policy, and the urgency to stimulate the economic during one of the nation's longest recessions." The group also noted that Patrick, DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray have indicated they would not like to host a casino in their hometowns.
Under House rules, DeLeo may serve as speaker for only one more full term, through 2015-2016.