School finance and gambling

There's no easy money for education. Except, legislators often feel like gambling is easier than others. Moritz in thw FWST:

Undaunted by a two-year string of legislative defeats, several organizations representing the gambling industry are poised to renew the fight to bring Las Vegas-style games to Texas when lawmakers are called back to Austin in the spring to overhaul the state’s school finance system.

And gambling opponents vow to wage yet another round of trench warfare against their better armed and funded foes to keep those games from operating in Texas.


The Texas Horsemen's Partnership, led by veteran lobbyist Reggie Bashur, said that allowing the video slots at the tracks would generate revenue leading to larger purses, which means that Texas would be better positioned to bring in top-flight thoroughbreds and more top-tier stakes races.

Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs, now the Republican candidate for state comptroller, said the benefits would trickle down through Texas' farming and ranching industries.

Even though about a dozen bills that would allow a range of new games, from video slots to full-fledged casinos, were filed during the 2005 session, few gained tractioon.

In the Republican-dominated Legislature, a solid bloc of Democrats served notice that they would not support gambling initiatives to underwrite a new school finance system. And a smaller core group of socially conservative Republicans led by state Rep. Linda Harper Brown of Irving and Sen. Jane Nelson of Lewisville vowed to block any gambling legislation no matter what its purpose with any legislative tactic at their disposal.

Stinson, Bashur and a third entry into the gambling-legislation sweepstakes, Austin lobbyist Chris Shields of the newly formed Texas Gaming Association, predicted that a need for state revenue that doesn't require a tax increase coupled with the need to compete with neighboring states will help persuade reluctant lawmakers to support some form of their initiatives.

Officeholders don't like gambling. But often they like raising taxes or cutting spending even less. Perry has proposed slots before. Strayhorn has been of several minds on gambling, but her son says that gambling should be on the table.

I've said before on this blog that I think if gambling is to be expanded, the first option considered ought to be to legalizing poker like California did in the 70s.

And I think there is probably a significant but less than 50% chance that gambling is expanded in some way. But that's outside-MoPac speculation.

Posted by Evan @ 02/16/06 12:08 AM


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