The next governor of Texas will have a major problem on his hand.
A $20 billion budget shortfall.
That’s right: $20 billion.
WFAA Dallas took a poll among likely voters and they said they support more gambling to help the budget.
But what will the legislature think about that?
Our poll found a majority of likely voters want more than just betting on horses at tracks like Lone Star Park.
“It tells me that Texans are looking at other ways to get revenue to balance the budget,” says Mike Lavigne of Win for Texas, the marketing arm for Texans for Economic Development that represents horse track owners.
You betcha. Like, no new taxes. Anything but that.
“We’re looking at very tough session coming up in terms of our fiscal needs,” Lavigne adds.
Fifty eight percent favor slot machines and video lottery terminals at horse race tracks.
Fifty four percent support legalizing casinos.
But opponents, like the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, hope to block more gambling as they’ve done before, as spokesman Rob Kohler explained, “The moral argument is that your are taking advantage of poor people.”
Kohler points to studies by the Texas Lottery Commission showing the lottery relies more and more on the less educated and poor for revenue.
And many lawmakers don’t want to anger voters strongly religious and organized and those who just don’t like gambling as a way to raise state revenue.
Gaming interests also can argue this time their good corporate citizens.
The battle opens in January for lawmakers to decide if voters will get to have their say.
Should be interesting.
How, exactly, are states going to deal with shortfalls without federal government bailouts?
I’ll let you know what happens in Texas.
You have any thoughts?