After Republicans in the North Carolina legislature drafted a bill to allow three casino developments in the state, a final budget will reportedly be passed without such a proposal. As reported by Associated Press (AP), the North Carolina lawmakers will instead launch the Medicaid coverage program for hundreds of thousands of adults set to begin at the earliest opportunity and suspend the proposed developments for the Rockingham, Anson, and Nash counties until further notice.
Proposed Casinos Stay Out Of Budget:
“We think this is the best, most prudent way for us to move forward,” Senate leader Phil Berger reportedly said on the occasion. The final budget will not include the authorization of four new casinos or the regulatory framework for video gambling machines despite the lively discussions led in the state House and Senate.
According to the source, Senate Republicans requested earlier this month that the language expanding gambling into the two-year budget be inserted in the respective plan. When the request failed, as AP reports, the representatives considered classifying the subject gambling items out of the budget and into a separate bill. Medicaid spending plan was reportedly the last option to include the casino expansion proposal.
Conflicting Health Care Law:
Such passage would have affected the major health care bill negotiated in March 2023 by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and grounded on the 2010 federal health care law. As all options to push the gambling bill forward were exhausted, Berger reportedly said that the subject types of gambling ”were over for the immediate future.” House Speaker Rep. Tim Moore, added that “clearly there were differences of opinion and at the end of the day we felt like this issue and no one single issue should hold up the budge,” according to AP.
Medicaid As Top Priority:
On the other hand, Cooper and his legislative allies consider Medicaid expansion a top priority for the state. Though some Republicans were reportedly unhappy with the efforts to legalize four casinos, Senate leader Berger concluded the discussion saying that ”Medicaid expansion will still be contingent on the budget becoming law,” AP reports.
The same source reports that Democrats and Christian were happy with their efforts to include the health care program in the budget. “For the last few days, House and Senate Dems have stood united against casinos and for Medicaid expansion,” Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, a Wake County Democrat, reportedly stated. “Today, we showed the state why Dems still matter.”
Non-Tribal Gaming Expansion Halted:
A state budget will reportedly be operative as of July 1, 2024 when it will begin distributing funds for initiatives and programs across the state. The proposal to develop casino resorts in the Rockingham, Anson, and Nash counties was supposed to be expand non-tribal gambling facilities in North Carolina which is the home to three casinos operated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the Catawba Indian Nation, as AP reports.
The proponents reportedly argued that the gambling resorts would have improve rural tourism, generate around 1,750 jobs and $500 million of investments, as well as bring hundreds of millions of dollars through tax payments to the state. Senate leader Berger, who is from Rockingham County, reportedly commented: “It was just pretty clear that the facts were almost beside the point as to what those proposals would do for rural areas. I’ve learned that in an environment like that, you’re unlikely to make any progress.”
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