April 23, 2013

Good-bye to Texas Lottery? And Texas education?

Per the Austin American-Statesman, this Texas House vote is a surprise indeed. The House side of the Lege voted to sunset the Lottery Commission. (But hold on to your horses; see the bottom.)

Per the vote, it's unclear if killing the commission means killing the Texas Lottery, too. I suppose the actual games could be run through some other agency. Not even mentioned is whether or not this would also kill the multi-state Powerball and MegaMillions games. However, given that the Lottery Commission regulates them all, killing it would seem to kill them, too, unless some new agency is created from scratch.
State Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, said an unexpected “philosophical aversion” to the lottery emerged with the vote.

“I didn’t perceive this bill being a referendum on the lottery,” he said. But “it certainly materialized that way.”
Indeed. One segment of the GOP, not yet at the point of bringing back Sunday blue laws, apparently started here.

And, elbow-throwing grannies need to be on the alert, also. The House vote, unless overturned by reconsideration, conference with the Senate or whatever, would kill all charitable bingo, too.

Boy, wait until that word gets out.

There's another issue, which Sylvester Turner didn't forget.

And that's the issue that, even though its funds aren't "dedicated" (unlike what was hinted but never promised when the lottery was approved), the state's gaming pays $2.2 billion a year to education.

Given that the Lege failed this year to restore all the cuts it made two years ago, this could be a hard kick.

Meanwhile, the GOP was calling this a tax on poor people. Tis true. Tis also hypocritical, as the Austin Chronicle notes:
Opponents this morning were calling the lottery a tax on poor people (nicely ignoring all the actual retrogressive taxes on poor people, like sales tax and property tax, that the GOP adores).

And, the Chron picks up the ball on the education issue.
Now the various public education committees and the House and Senate budget conferees are left in one hell of a pickle. If the numbers stand, they'll be forced to revise the state's contribution to school finance yet again, and when they already have a ruling from Judge John Dietz saying they chronically underfund public schools already, this could be a catastrophe. 
Yeah, in light of the school districts' lawsuit against the state, this vote is a clusterfuck indeed. Should it stand, it has to be considered as part of the appeal.

Speaking of education, on the Senate side there's debate on how much to tap from the Rainy Day Fund for education funding.

UPDATE: As of late this afternoon, the bill has cleared the House to keep the Lottery Commission in place after all.

That said, the original vote was 81-65 no. This one is 92-53 yes.

That means that, even by the standards of the Texas Legislature, there's 27 blatant hypocrites in the Texas House of Representatives.

I wonder how many three-, or six-martini lunches facilitated such vote-switching.

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