State senators passed an amendment to the casino bill this afternoon, on a 33-5 vote, that would set aside about $3 million to help needy senior citizens with their property taxes.
Republican senators had been pushing for a more aggressive measure that would set aside all gambling revenue – estimated near $300 million – toward property tax relief for all property owners. Democrats prevented a vote on that amendment.
Democrat Susan C. Fargo, a Lincoln Democrat, proposed the effort to aid senior homeowners. She said the money, one percent of the state’s gambling revenues, would be put into local programs for seniors.
All five of the Senate’s Republicans voted against Fargo’s measure. "Peanuts, peanuts," said Minority Leader Richard R. Tisei, a Republican from Wakefield. "That’s what she’s talking about -- throw a few crumbs out there."
After the vote, Senate President Therese Murray told reporters that Republicans were playing election year politics by drawing attention to tax issues during the casino debate. Tisei is running for lieutenant governor, with Republican Charles D. Baker, against incumbent Deval Patrick and Timothy Murray, Democrats; independent candidate Tim Cahill is also running for governor.
“It’s all about embarrassing the governor,” Murray said. “because he came into office saying property tax relief but we’ve also hit a worldwide recession that no one foresaw.”
It was the sixth day of debate by the Senate on a bill that would bring three casinos to the state. The state House passed its own version of expanded gambling legislation in April. The two chambers would have to reach a compromise before sending a bill to Patrick's desk.
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