Tags: Alabama | Del Marsh | Robert Bentley | legalized gambling

Alabama Senate Leader Eyes Lotto, Slots to Save Budget

By    |   Thursday, 07 May 2015 01:21 PM

Facing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue shortfalls, Alabama's Senate President Pro Tem, a Republican, says that allowing gambling in The Heart of Dixie is the best solution to the state's fiscal woes, The New York Times reports.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh and his supporters in the GOP caucus are at odds with Gov. Robert Bentley, a Republican who stridently opposes Marsh's proposal for a constitutional amendment to institute a state lottery, allow traditional slots and casino table games at four existing racetracks, and authorize the governor to negotiate a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, who operate gaming facilities throughout the state, according to a news release from Marsh's office.

His plan would also create a five-member Alabama Lottery and Gaming Commission to regulate the lottery and gaming.

The constitutional amendment would need to be approved by voters in staunchly conservative Alabama, a state that has voted for a Republican president in the last seven elections, according to an October story published in The Hill. The same article reported that six of Alabama's seven House representatives were Republicans as were two of the past three governors.

Marsh argues that his plan would generate $400 million in new state revenue and create more than 11,000 new, permanent jobs. He also predicted that gaming would have a $1.28 billion economic impact on the state.

The governor, who opposes gambling, told the Montgomery Advertiser that Marsh's plan would "make Alabama look like Las Vegas."

"It is one of the worst pieces of legislation I have ever seen," he said.

According to the Advertiser, Alabama's General Fund budget is facing at least a $290 million shortfall next year, the result of increasing costs and slow growth in budget revenues combined with "one-time money" needed to rescue the budget for years. And the future looks grim: up to $700 million in budget shortfalls.

Voters re-elected Bentley last year. He campaigned on the promise of no new taxes, according to the Times. His proposal to solve the state's financial crisis involves some $541 million in tax increases, "mostly on cigarettes and car sales."

Under Bentley's plan "hundreds of court employees could be laid off, thousands of families could lose state assistance, and most state parks could close," the Times reports.

Marsh says Republican leaders have considered the pros and cons and determined that gambling is less of an abomination than the alternative.

"Republicans, by and large, aren't big advocates of gaming," he told the Times. "But they sure as hell don't like taxes."

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Facing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue shortfalls, Alabama's Senate President Pro Tem, a Republican, says that allowing gambling in The Heart of Dixie is the best solution to the state's fiscal woes, The New York Times reports.
Alabama, Del Marsh, Robert Bentley, legalized gambling
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2015-21-07
Thursday, 07 May 2015 01:21 PM
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