State questions 705, 706, 712


A lot of people have been asking me about the state questions. Here are three more -- the gambling questions. I'm voting NO on all three. Gambling won't grow the economy, and won't provide any significant money for education. In fact, gambling will take money out of the local economy and it preys on the mathematically challenged.

SQ 705: OCPA has an extensive analysis here comparing the promises made for Oklahoma's lottery to the experience of other states. Lotteries don't bring in the money promised, and all too often the money is diverted for purposes other than that which was promised. Lottery fatigue sets in after a couple of years, and states have to resort to ever more advertising and new games to keep the money flowing. A lottery diverts discretionary spending from restaurants and movies and other small businesses. Most important, SQ 705 does not create an untouchable lockbox for educational funds. It is a statute, not a constitutional amendment. Passing SQ 705 is the same as if the legislature passed a law -- the legislature can amend it without a vote of the people. In particular, the legislature could change the percentage of lottery proceeds going to education.

SQ 706: This is a constitutional amendment that creates a public trust to hold funds from the lottery, but it does not specify how much (if any) of the lottery money will actually end up in the fund. That's in the statute passed by SQ 705, which is subject to change by the legislature without a vote of the people. This trust is only a lockbox for whatever funds the legislature decides to put into it.

SQ 712: This is also a statutory measure, not a constitutional amendment. If we're going to have casinos in Oklahoma, anyone ought to be able to open one. This bill only allows Indian governments and horse tracks to offer gambling, and then only certain machines are permitted. The evils of gambling aside for a moment, this has all the marks of a stitch up -- a special deal for well-connected people. If you aren't in on this deal, evidently you didn't give enough to Brad Henry's campaign for governor.

The National Gambling Impact Study Commission, which was created by Congress in 1996 and completed its work in 1999, has a website here. its final report online here, and a summary of the report's recommendations here. It appears that, if Oklahoma approves these three measures, we will be going directly against the advice of this commission.

You can find more information on the website for the opposition, Oklahomans for Good Goverment.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 1, 2004 12:45 AM.

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SQ 708: Rainy day restraint is the next entry in this blog.

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