Gambling lives away

Published 8:32 pm Thursday, January 15, 2009

We are just a few weeks away from the 2009 session of the Alabama Legislature. The forecast is grim. Revenues are down dramatically. The latest figures show we are down nearly 10 to 12 percent across the board in our budgets.

We have raided our rainy day funds to make up some of the shortfall for education. But dramatic budget cuts are still coming.

Our State Constitution demands a balanced budget, meaning we cannot borrow to cover a short fall.

Alabamians voted seven to one in 2003 to not raise taxes to fix a short fall. We heard that loud and clear, and we are not even going to go there.

We are prepared to cut the fat. However, there is no fat. Over five hundred million dollars of fat was cut out of the budget after 2003. Now it’s all lean meat. It will be painful.

Gambling forces are working on a push to be the heroes this year.

They are heralding a 20 percent tax solution to the needs of the day, and if just given the approval, they will solve all of our problems. It’s their latest excuse to get legalized gambling in Alabama.

The mighty Alabama Education Association has come out with support of the idea. Their argument is that since it’s already here, we might as well tax it to get something out of it. What a pitiful excuse.

Our Constitution forbids gambling. It forbids slot machines. It is criminal to operate one and criminal to play one.

Gamblers know this so they have come up with their way around the law in the form of electronic bingo machines. They have capitalized on a family-friendly game of bingo and morphed it into an electronic form of slot machines. It has resulted in an epidemic all over the state.

The courts have not fully ruled on whether these machines are criminal or legal. Until that time these machines will keep pushing the envelope of community morals. It’s time for a showdown.