April 05, 2003
Are we going to have gambling or not?

Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn thinks video gambling would be a peachy way to raise revenue without imposing taxes. She continues to deride proposals to delay payments until the next budget cycle as "irresponsible". Senate Finance Committee Chairman Teel Bivins (R, Amarillo) thinks she's all wet.

"It looks to me like it's a legitimate (accounting) mechanism that's getting a bum rap," Bivins said from his Capitol office, where reporters gathered for the latest war of words between Republicans on the budget. "I'd rather vote for a payment delay than a games bill."


Bivins defended the delayed-payment maneuver as an idea the state employed in 1991 and 1993 with no disastrous effects. He said he voted for the delays then and also voted to pay the bill back in 1995.

For the 2004-2005 budget cycle, Bivins proposes delaying $845 million in the Foundation School Program, $369 million in the Teacher Retirement System, $17.5 million for the Employee Retirement System and $376 million in motor fuels tax.

"When I poll on this question, I have enough votes to enact these," he said of the Senate.

While I have sympathy for the claim that pushing back payments for a few days is just playing a shell game, I'll say again that the only reason people like Teel Bivins suggest it is because our state budget is artificially constricted by the need to be balanced by an arbitrary date. Do you pay all of your credit card bills in full on time every single month? In essence, Bivins wants Texas to carry a balance in the hopes that revenue flow will be a bit better next year.

Of course, it's more than a bit disingenuous of Governor Perry and crew to be so appalled by the proposed use of this rather standard tactic in this Legislative session. None of them were concerned when our previous Governor did the same thing in better times. They're committed to cutting the budget at any cost.

As for Strayhorn's idea, haven't we learned the lessons of our initial foray into state-sponsored gambling yet?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 05, 2003 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack

I'm of two minds about this pushing back payments. I don't mind pushing back some payments from a lean time to what we hope will be a fatter time, but this is not a practice that's restricted to lean times. We did this when we should have been putting away money in the boom times, too, which is part of our problem now.

If I thought we'd learn something, I'd be happier with the idea. And it doesn't seem any worse than the other ideas we've been floating to raise revenue.

Or maybe we should just disband state government and ask to be taken in by Louisiana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. $DEITY knows that would make some of the Texas-bashers happier.

Posted by: Ginger on April 5, 2003 1:25 PM