According to this story, the Arkansas Supreme Court has decided that we humble voters can decide whether to allow a statewide lottery.
Good for them, and phooey on the Arkansas Family Council for bringing a lawsuit and trying to keep the issue off the November ballot. It's typically a leftist move to run to the courts and try to keep people from voting on issues. The Arkansas Family Council -- a conservative group based in Little Rock -- ought to be ashamed of using leftie tactics to keep an issue from appearing before the voters.
Now, don't get me wrong. I hate the idea of an Arkansas lottery, but I'd rather have that issue presented to voters than letting the state Supreme Court take an active role in the legislative process. I'm a conservative and, as such, I have more faith in my fellow Arkansans than in the state's various institutions.
Why do I hate lotteries? More often than not, they are dreamed up by cowardly lawmakers who are afraid to push for tax increases. Also, the funds are fungible, meaning that the money that was once used to pay for the programs now financed by lotteries are moved to other things.
Arkansas Lieutenant Gov. Bill "Clintonista" Halter has claimed a lottery could raise $100 million for education. The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, meanwhile, estimates the lottery could raise $55 million. Whichever estimate is right, it's pretty clear that there would be a substantial sum to award in the form of academic scholarships in Arkansas.
But what of the money that's going toward scholarships now? Yes, that will quietly be tucked away in the general fund with absolutely no subsequent tax break for the tax-paying public. In other words, the state government that already has plenty of cash will just get more -- a fact that is not being disclosed at all by proponents of the lottery amendment.
Such trickery annoys me. Not long ago, for example, the sales tax on food was cut in Arkansas. That was wildly popular, of course, but the state government simply made up for the loss by taxing other things. It wasn't a tax cut at all.
Also, what happens to programs financed by the lottery should revenue come in at far less than expected? Hell, we've got Clintonista Halter saying this measure will bring in $100 million while the Department of Finance and Revenue estimates the program will net $55 million. That's a pretty big gulf, of course, leading one to suspect it's hard to project just how much revenue will be brought in by a lottery.
That's a major problem when it comes to budgeting. Let's say the lottery is wildly popular and routinely brings in $100 million. So, programs are put in place that are dependent on the lottery for revenue. What happens to that program when revenue drops to, say, $70 million? Are programs simply cut? Remember, we can't go back to the cash that is now paying for scholarships and grants -- that will be applied elsewhere.
One might argue that such uncertainty is typical as you get drops in tax revenue when the economy goes bad. However, bear in mind that this state is well financed and its budget surpluses aren't uncommon. In other words, programs that are paid for by honest-to-goodness taxes are based on a solid foundation as far as funding is concerned.
Finally, I have a major problem with all the hubbub over a statewide lottery because it takes the focus off the real problem in this state when it comes to college education. Namely, we're 49th in the country in terms of how many citizens hold at least a bachelor's degree. We're sending plenty of Arkansans to Arkansas, so what's happening to them?
A lot of them aren't staying here. My brother, for example, graduated first in his class with a bachelor's in chemical engineering that he earned at the University of Arkansas. He graduated second in his class with an optometry degree from Chicago. Where is he now? He's in North Carolina. Why? Because he couldn't find a job that paid well in Arkansas.
Most of my brother's friends who received degrees in engineering are out of states because they can't find jobs in Arkansas. Those backing the state lottery claim that offering more scholarships will ultimately result in a more educated workforce and that will boost the economy of the state.
History has shown, however, that plenty of Arkansas kids are earning degrees, but they're heading elsewhere. A lottery, then, is a terrible investment -- what we're asking Arkansas citizens to do is finance the educations of people who will wind up in California, North Carolina, Texas and elsewhere.
We can throw all the money at education we want, but until we figure out how to bring more jobs to this state it will be all for naught.
More Arkie nonsense right here.
Yes, indeed, I've been away for awhile. I spent quite some time being sick and didn't deal with the work I had to put in to smack this blog into shape. I'm now ready to go ahead and do that.
So, I'll start by reminding everyone of the rules. Please -- for God's sake -- please stick with simply identifying your blog in the "labels" section so we get a nifty little list of who all is participating and what they've turned in. For example, you'll notice the only label attached to this tag is "TheNaturalStateHawg." Why? Because the Blogs/Categories section looks like crap and is completely useless, what with a bunch of damned labels stuck there and all.
I'll clean that all up, cursing as I go.
Second, Theresa Komar -- a proud Arkie and member of this board -- has suggested something that I think is a great idea. Why not turn this into kind of a magazine focusing on Arkansas-centric stories? I'm going to follow that guideline (hence the story I've attached here), but y'all submit whatever you want.
I just like Theresa's idea as I think it's a good one and hope others agree.
Finally, I do apologize for being away for so long. I won't promise it won't happen again as my health, job, my increasing number of freelance projects and family will always come before anything else.
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