Lehigh Valley

Locals react to passed legislation on gambling, more taxes

Pennsylvania can finally put its budget woes to bed for now. A revenue plan is in place just 17 weeks past due.

On Monday Gov. Tom Wolf signed a series of bills that touch on everything from gambling to fireworks.

Inside Easton's Phantom Fireworks there's no shortage of items to light up the sky, and for the first time there's no limit on what Pennsylvania residents can buy.

Gov. Wolf signed legislation allowing in-state residents to buy the bigger Class C fireworks, but as store employee Joe Mazak says, that boom comes with a price.

"We are definitely looking at a consumer product that's being taxed well over, you know, 18 percent," Mazak said.

The fireworks are taxed 12 percent on top of the already 6 percent sales tax.

It's part of a bigger plan to boost revenue in the state. This includes expanding gambling to smaller, satellite casinos, airports and truck stops. A move trucker Chris Duffy says is the wrong play for drivers already taxed on long hours and tight deadlines.

"It gets addictive and the next thing you know four hours went by and you got to get back on the road; should've been sleeping but lost last week's pay," the driver of 10 years said.

The bill also makes Pennsylvania the fourth state to allow online gambling.

A Muhlenberg College professor studying gambling's effects since 2007 says the gaming expansion won't impact already established casino's like the Sands.

"No matter what you're buying you should pay tax on what your buying. Why should online people get away with not having to pay a tax?" Lehigh County resident Linda Werley said.

This budget makes that harder to do as it cracks down on online shoppers skipping the Pennsylvania sales tax.

Back at Phantoms, Mazak is hoping their new tax won't be a bust for business.

"Customer might bite the bullet on it, but here at Phantom we are disappointed in how it has gone through," he said.

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