It is inevitable, in these days of budget shortfalls…and legislators fear of raising taxes.
The fear, that is…of not being re-elected if they raise taxes.
So what is a legislator to do? Cut programs? Well…how about legalizing more gambling.
Which is exactly what Texas is considering.
Texas is currently facing big budget short falls.
The budget is facing cuts, cuts which will affect prison programs, education programs, and state mental hospitals.
Tax hikes are out. For the reason stated above.
Prison officials have cautioned legislators over the risk of cutting programs to prisons.
Estimates say that lay offs would remove over 3,000 employees and remove drug and alcohol treatment programs. In a state with relatively low recidivism rates compared to the national average, it is likely that Texas legislators will aim to solve budget woes before being forced to cut budgets.
Education cuts are also likely to take place in the event that the budget gap is not filled.
Grants, the lifeblood of education, might have to be slashed.
The gambling expansion being considered is would bring slot machines at racetracks or, in a full blown expansion, large casinos that entail all forms of casino gambling.
These casinos could generated billions of dollars a year, which would help to fill the gap in the budget.
Frankly, having lived in Houston and Austin, I KNOW that people would love it.
An unexplored opportunity is that of online gambling. Unfortunately, no regulatory body exists for the collection of taxes on online gambling, which could generate an estimated $80 billion over a period of ten years.
So legislators are looking to the Pennsylvania or Florida model…where gambling revenue has (somewhat) eased the tax burden. I say somewhat, because Pennsylvanians still call their state Taxsylvania.
I’ll keep an eye on the Lone Star state for you.