Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Slots Referendum Is Not The Answer

Opposition to the slots referendum is beginning to emerge from conservatives, but it hasn't come as easily as you might expect. Red Maryland has come out against slots, despite ample disagreement amongst its contributors.

Here is what the Maryland Taxpayers Association had to say:

The Maryland Taxpayers Association (MTA) announced its strong opposition to a
Constitutional Amendment legalizing slot machine gambling at a press conference
in Annapolis today.

MTA President Herb McMillan reminded fiscal
conservatives that, “Maryland can’t tax and gamble its way to prosperity, or
spend itself out of a deficit. Excessive spending and higher taxes are the root
causes of Maryland’s economic problems. Slots will not solve these problems.
Slots will simply add fuel to the government’s spending fire, while pulling 1.4
billion away from existing Maryland businesses. Slots, like tax increases, hurt
small businesses, kill jobs, and weaken our economy. It’s time for government to
tighten its belt and live within its means, just like we do.”

MTA Chairman Dee Hodges added that, “Taxpayers cannot trust Governor O’Malley with their money. Within one year, Governor O’Malley and his spendthrift friends in
the General Assembly blew a billion dollar surplus, pushed through the largest
tax hike in Maryland history, and then increased state spending by a billion
dollars. Now we have yet another billion dollar deficit. Money burns a hole in
Governor O’Malley’s pocket, and fiscal conservatives shouldn’t enable his
spending addiction.”

Mr. McMillan pointed out that, “Despite his claims
to the contrary, Governor O’Malley hasn’t cut any spending. State spending
increased by one billion last year. Governor O’Malley isn’t using higher taxes
and slots to avoid spending cuts. He’s using them to increase spending and
expand government entitlement programs.”

In closing, Mr. McMillan called on fiscally conservative Republicans, Democrats, and Independents to unite against slots. “For years, fiscal conservatives were divided over slots, but Governor O’Malley has radically changed the terms of the debate. Slots and cuts instead of higher taxes were arguably the lesser of two evils. Slots after a record tax and spending increase are just an additional evil.”
In a little known secret meeting at the Republican National Convention, I was elected spokesperson for all Conservatives living maverick-ly outside of Annapolis city limits. Speaking for them, I can say that anti-gambling fervor is not the main reason of opposition for slots. Neither is the motivation to screw O'Malley like the Dem's screwed Ehrlich's plan. Here are the reasons (some better than others) to oppose this slots package.

1. Such specific language should not be in the Constitution. Since the measure appears as a ballot referendum, if passed it will appear in the Constitution of Maryland. The details of slots should be codified by statute.

2. It makes it very hard for Marylanders to change their mind. Let's say that we adopt slots, then find out slot machines create genetic deficiencies in small children that make them all want to become economists when they grow up. How horrible! With a Constitutional mandate in place, it would be very hard to repeal or even change slots--especially with the people who make money from it lining up in defense.

3. Slots are being used to avoid fiscal responsibility. This is the crux of Mr. McMillan's argument. Let's start with not raising new taxes at a special session, then maybe we can talk slots.

4. Political cowardice. I have heard some people criticize the legislature for passing the buck to the voters and not taking a stand themselves. I tend to think that there are more shrewd tactics at work, but it's an argument nonetheless.

5. The government will have more money to spend/waste. No explanation needed.

For me, there are better ways to do this, and better places to start saving/raising money.


Anonymous said...

The only way you will get Maryland government to slow their obscene growth in spending is to starve the beast. The commercial "for" slots is nausiating. As they see it, the only alternative to slots is $700 million in new taxes. There isn't even any thought given to the notion of slowing the growth of government. It's just continuation of failure on the part of our politicians.

Bob McWilliams

Sally Cohen said...

and it that same vein, but on the national front, we must stop spending money on the Iraq war. We must choke of the funding. We can not keep borroying money .

Anonymous said...

The only other person more happy about this development than peter franchot is Mike Busch. Starve the beast? Hello. Republicans lost seats in the legislature in 2006. This is not a state where less government revenue is on the political menu. Liberals and Mike Busch will use this "no" vote on slots to get what they really want which is a sales tax on personal services (read auto repair and accounting services) and no slots.

Brian Gill said...

I think the above is a good point. I would hazard to guess that our circumstances produce some apathy when it comes to slots--with the current state leadership, we will probably be poorly governed with or without slots.

John Arks said...

I love putting my thing in a slot.

Anonymous said...

Death to slots!

Ralhp Lebowitz said...

slots are cool, especially when wet.

A Life Well Lived said...

I know. When Bob Erlich grew the size of state government by 30% and taxes by over $3billion and still wanted slots money to spend it was just unreal.

You do know how stupid it is to snipe at detailed changes to our 165 page state constitution that regulates off street parking in Baltimore city, right?