Gambling Will Solve that Problem!

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Facing with mounting financial problems, Louisiana‘s struggling to find ways to come up with funding for higher education. Wait, one state lawmaker says, wasn’t gambling supposed to make the state flush?

According to a piece by Nate Monroe in the Daily Comet:

Voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1990 creating the state Lottery, and the Legislature created a series of laws legalizing and regulating other forms of gaming in 1991 — with the state slated to receive a portion of revenue from the gaming enterprises. [Rep. Joe] Harrison said legalized gambling was sold to voters with the understanding that any money the state received would be used to provide a safety net for the state’s education system.

The state Lottery, horse racing, video poker, land-based casinos, river boat casinos and racetrack casinos have provided the state with millions in revenue each year. In 2008, the state received $886 million, according to the most recent report from the state’s Legislative Auditor.

Harrison, a Republican, is concerned that only $306 million of that went to education, most of it to K-12. Some $431 million apparently went into the state’s general fund. So the state can use the money however it sees fit.

In October Governor Bobby Jindal announced $107 million worth of budget cuts. More than a third of that will come from funding for the state’s public colleges.

“We have money being taken from one pocket and put into the other. It’s a travesty,” Harrison Complained. “It’s a farce.”

It looks like Louisiana is discovering, like so many other states, that legalized gambling is really just a revenue source. It not necessarily the solution for education’s funding troubles. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer