If you decide to vote this November (I’m talking to you, 49%), you’ll be asked to make a decision about gambling. Yes, gambling rears it’s ugly face in Florida politics once again this year. This time, pro-gambling forces are making a play for a foot in the door – rather than the heretofore-unsuccessful full frontal assault.
Here’s the ballot language (courtesy of Vote Smart Florida):
“Authorizes Miami-Dade and Broward Counties to hold referenda on whether to authorize slot machines in existing, licensed pari-mutuel facilities (thoroughbred and harness racing, greyhound racing, and jai alai) that have conducted live racing or games in that county during each of the last two calendar years before effective date of this amendment. The Legislature may tax slot machine revenues, and any such taxes must supplement public education funding statewide. Requires implementing legislation.”
Here’s what the folks supporting the amendment have to say about why you should vote ‘yes’ (www.yesforlocalcontrol.com/):
“Yes on Amendment 4: When it comes to increasing education funding through the regulation and taxation of slot machines… Shouldn’t You Have the Right to Decide?”
I know what you are thinking, “Gambling may not be the best thing to have in my backyard, but who can say no to more education spending.” Being against more education funding is kind of like being pro-drunk driving. There may be a few out there who feel that way, but not many of them will admit it publicly.
Now, here’s a history lesson, courtesy of yours truly. Citizens amended the Florida Constitution on Election Day in November 1986. This amendment allowed for the creation of a Florida Lottery. Then, as now, the carrot swung before the voter’s eyes was additional funding for education. Chapter 24 of the Florida Statutes covers the lottery, based on the constitutional amendment passed in 1986. Here’s what it says:
24.102 Purpose and intent.–
(1) The purpose of this act is to implement s. 15, Art. X of the State Constitution in a manner that enables the people of the state to benefit from significant additional moneys for education and also enables the people of the state to play the best lottery games available.
Notice the subtle use of the word “additional” in the statute? Now ask your local state representative how much “additional money” from the lottery goes to education. It is widely known that the legislature has been much more familiar with the phrase “in place of” since 1986 when the “Education Lottery” amendment was passed.
If you think gambling should be legal, vote for the amendment. But let’s be honest, this amendment will ultimately have about as much to do with education as this web site.
Fool me twice? I don’t think so.