Daily Archives: April 28, 2008

why education funding should never be tied to gambling

The decriminalization of gambling has been an interesting ride. Typically casinos have won over local communities and legislatures by offering them a cut of the action in the form of tax revenues. The most common tactic by the casinos is offering to provide funding for schools in exchange for decriminalization of gambling. The well documented problem with such an approach is the “shell game;” taking money that would have normally been directed to education and shifting into other programs all the while claiming the casinos are putting countless dollars in education coffers.

The worst of these shell games comes when a states education budget is tied to a percentage of the proceeds from gambling. The more that is gambled the more that goes to education. The problem, as explained by The Tampa Tribune, comes when gambling revenues are down. Florida’s situation is explained:

Just when lawmakers thought the state education budget cutbacks couldn’t get worse, they did.

Blame it on the dip in people who buy scratch-off lottery tickets. Lottery income, which usually accounts for about 5 percent of the state’s education budget, won’t be as much as lawmakers had expected this year when they first crafted the school spending plan.

Rep. Joe Pickens, the House education budget chief, is bracing for about a $40 million to $100 million drop in funds, he said Tuesday.

So now Florida is facing a situation where students will suffer if people don’t gamble and lose more money. There are real consequences to this kind of loss of revenue and The Tampa Tribune continues to explained how devastating these situations are:

That money pays for everything from faculty salaries to library books, said Dan Holsenbeck, vice president of university relations at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. UCF received $30.8 million in lottery education money this fiscal year. “As that amount of funding decreases, then we can’t hire faculty for vacant positions, we can’t recruit…” Holsenbeck said.

And those concerns are not unique to higher education. Cuts could be required at all levels of public education from pre-kindergarten to secondary education.

It is deplorable to hold hostage the education of innocent children. Please remember as you hear more and more about initiatives to fund education through gambling that everyone losses. People in Missouri have already lost 1.5 billion annually and if they loose less, that could be less money that goes to fund education. Education dollars would never be used to encourage more people to drink more or used to encourage people to smoke more so why would we allow such dollars to be used to encourage people to gamble more.