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Readshaw to propose lottery to assist mass transit

 

March 6, 2012



With still more cuts in subsidies to mass transit looming in the next state budget, Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny, is preparing to introduce a bill that could help fill the gap.

Mr. Readshaw is dusting off a bill he first introduced in 2005 that would authorize a lottery specifically to assist municipal mass transit operations.

The proposal is for a lottery to be conducted 12 times a year. After prizes and costs, all remaining revenue from the $5 tickets would go toward repaying the debt incurred on bonds issued for mass transit development.

"By taking off some bond repayment load from the mass transit agencies, they could divert the money they would otherwise pay on their debt and instead use the funds to maintain services," said Mr. Readshaw. "The Allegheny County Port Authority and virtually every other mass transit operation in the Commonwealth are confronted by the continuing reduction of the state's share of the costs for their services.

"There is a significant number of Pennsylvanians for whom mass transit is the only way to commute to and from work. The more that is shaved off of transit work, the more of those people could face losing their job. That means more tax money spent on unemployment, and makes an area less attractive to potential employers."

Mr. Readshaw also noted for many people their local bus is the only way they can travel to medical facilities and grocery stores.

He asserted the proposed Economic Development Fund for Mass Transit would be conducted in such a way as to not interfere with the current state lottery which benefits older Pennsylvanians. Among the benefits funded by the lottery is senior transportation.

Mr. Readshaw added that ultimately, a mass transit lottery would increase support for the local systems without creating a further burden on taxpayers.

He expects to introduce the legislation after the House returns to session in March.

 

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