January 5, 2011 by USA Post
State legislators do not call the game, mind you. It’s “game” – as if the government coffers in a way to expand when families gather to play the Wii and Pictionary.
These semantic games – do what has always been uncomfortable a little easier to swallow – will play again in Austin in early January that proposals to extend “game” to go before the 82nd Texas Legislature. With the state set a $ 22 billion – or more – loss of revenue to the budget for the next two years, industry lobbyists while pushing video lottery terminals at casinos hope to pick up votes as easily as Monopoly players pick up $ 200 each time they pass Go.
And that’s not to love a plan that would generate new revenue without raising taxes?
Many, if you’re a Texas public school trustee. They were the losers in the state-sponsored gambling from state Senator Jane Nelson has introduced a bill in 1997 that lottery proceeds for education K-12.
In 1991, when the state needs to close a nearly 5 billion budget deficit, the leadership at the state capital was united about allowing voters to decide whether Texas should have a lottery. They are confident that the answer is “yes.”
The legislators were far less unified. After a proposal to place the issue before voters have not by 10 votes in the regular session, Governor Ann Richards has called a special session and went on television to tell Texans that lawmakers were faced with a choice between a lottery and a huge tax bill. The Legislature has acquiesced to the pressure Richards’s prime-time by approving a state lottery and budget paid for 30 tax increases – but nobody wants to talk.
When the Texas Lottery began in 1992, the product went into the general fund of the state.
Nelson came in 1997 with a bill to allocate lottery money for education. This was the beginning of the game bait and switch on the Legislature. Designated funds allow legislators to reduce general fund support for education by the same level of new lottery money put into it. In addition, the unpredictable nature of “play” product means there is no way of accurately forecasting annual sales.
Beginning in fiscal 2010, a portion of lottery proceeds was sent to the Fund for assistance to veterans.
“Lottery for Education” sounds good. The use of children as an excuse for state sanctioned-game? Not so much. But expect to be among the tactics that lobbyists in 2011.
In the 2007 session, for example, “game” lobbyists tried to sweeten the pot by devoting a portion of gaming revenues to fund the proposed scholarships for graduates of Texas more than 200,000 each year of high school.
The proposal has not yet.
Nobody should expect Governor Rick Perry to make an appearance on TV like Richards. It has never been interested in the expansion of gambling “footprint” in the state. Good for him.
We run the risk of being redundant, but then again no one in this state always indicates an expansion of gambling as one of the fast “fixed” when it faces a budget crunch Texas. This type of financing has never been the salvation for the ailing finances.
And please spare us the argument of separation with Texans buckets of dollars into this type of activity across the lines of the state. That is their business. It does not make a bit tastier for the State Government to promote the behavior.
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