DeLeo’s “jobs” bill

Speaker says we can no longer afford to let gambling revenue go out of state

Let me be very clear: The legislation I’m proposing to you today is a jobs bill. It creates a new sector of our economy that will create jobs and help keep our residents employed.

It is a balanced approach that maximizes the benefit to Massachusetts. It helps our economy by directly creating construction, hotel and service industry jobs. It helps working families by providing funds for education, local aid, tourism, manufacturing and for vital programs at our community colleges that train students in the skills they need to succeed. And it smartly puts money back into our Rainy Day Fund so Massachusetts will be prepared for the future.

This bill creates long-term jobs through the creation of two resort casinos. It helps get shovels planted in the ground by requiring applicants to commit to spending a minimum of $500 million in capital investments in order to receive a license.

This means they will have to build a resort hotel as well as other amenities. Over the long term, these resorts will also employ thousands of our residents.

This bill retains jobs at racing facilities. As I have stated previously, these jobs are so important because they support families. My concern is for the workers who struggle every day to make a living. Even before these resort casinos come online, revenues generated from these facilities will help our cities and towns in the form of local aid.

This bill also reflects reality. Our expert analysis shows that much of the revenue currently being generated in neighboring states emanates from Massachusetts. As a representative and the leader of the House, I have an obligation to keep that revenue here. No matter anyone’s personal attitude towards gaming, we can no longer afford to let that revenue escape elsewhere.

We will reinvest the funds we garner through gaming licenses in our state. We will distribute this money to fund manufacturing, workforce partnerships, tourism and local capital projects. A portion of the annual gaming revenue, in turn, will go towards local aid, the rainy day fund and education.

It is not a cure-all. But we are at a time when we need to maximize every dollar and take advantage of each and every opportunity to grow our economy.

We have taken steps to create a strong regulatory structure to oversee this new field and strengthen the Attorney General’s ability to enforce the law.

Finally, I am aware of the concerns surrounding addiction and gambling – having had many conversations with Kathy Scanlon and other advocates. For this reason, the bill devotes significant resources to gambling addiction programs.

I also regard this as part of our overall effort to stabilize the financial footing of our cities and towns. Added to the local option taxes made available this year and other forms of municipal relief, the House continues to work on ways to strengthen our partnership with cities and towns. This initiative is another element of that overall effort.

With that said, I say once again that this bill is aimed at the social costs of joblessness, which weaken our society and imperil our families. I will have those people in mind as we move forward.

Robert DeLeo is the speaker of the Massachusetts House.