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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Battle lines being drawn

The publication had more pages and newer numbers -- but it didn't make much of a difference to the warring sides of the casino gambling controversy.

One day after Deval Patrick sent around a glossy brochure touting his casino proposal to the office of every state representative, the Boston Chamber of Commerce entered the fray with an independent study backing up a significant amount of the numbers in Patrick's plan.

Or did it?

While the Chamber study threw enough cold water to drown the construction jobs creation claims touted by Patrick, the report by essentially backed his assertions on the number of permanent jobs that would be created and the amounted of revenue that would be generated.

The chamber, which commissioned UHY Advisors to do the $80,000 study, says it isn't taking sides, yet.
"People in the business community are essentially agnostic on the issue of gambling, but very gung-ho on legitimate ways to generate revenue for the Commonwealth and also to generate jobs," said Ralph C. Martin II, chairman of the chamber, which will be meeting next month to decide whether to take a position on casinos for the first time. "And if this turns out to be a net positive, people will be receptive to it."
But folks with religion on both sides of the spat quickly weighed in.
"It gives some credibility to the governor's numbers," said Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who has been arguing for a casino at Suffolk Downs in East Boston. "We can't just continue to say no, no, no. Think about the impact this would have on municipal coffers. You can't do these budgets with hocus-pocus resources."
Not so fast, says the Legislature's casino gambling expert.
"We keep getting these recycled studies done with the same information," said Representative Daniel Bosley, a North Adams Democrat and the chief casino critic in the House. "I don't think it's going to sway anybody's mind."
This is where it gets confusing. While the report apparently referenced only 10 casino-commissioned studies out of the 200 they looked at, the authors also chose not to estimate the impacts to regional economies or on local businesses, because it remains unclear where the casinos would be located.

That's a significant loophole in a work by an otherwise, seemingly neutral source.

One can assume and hope that Bosley will unveil his own detailed analysis at a March 18th public hearing. And one can only assume and hope it will be air tight, considering the level of skepticism among casino supporters that will greet its unveiling.

The Chamber report restored a little luster to the tarnish that had been building on Deval Patrick, although skepticism can and should remain the order of the day.

But it's also clear that casinos will generate millions in annual revenues for cash-starved state coffers. Skeptics need to be sharpening their own alternatives -- new revenue sources and potential budget cuts -- for what is increasingly likely to be a lengthy, heated battle.

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Blogger Dan Kennedy said...

The fact that casino studies were used is probably less important than the Chamber's reliance on UMass Dartmouth economist Clyde Barrow, a casino supporter who virtually wrote Gov. Patrick's proposal. In effect, the Chamber cites Patrick's own numbers (by way of Barrow) to say that Patrick's numbers are right. Amazing. More here.

March 07, 2008 7:59 AM  
Anonymous wellbasically said...

Liberal, you have to start looking for the private economy to get going, which means corporate tax cuts, and cuts in the capital gains tax.

March 07, 2008 12:45 PM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Dan, would have been nice if the Globe noted that factoid.

Sorry Well, but supply side economics of the type you suggest, have a proven record of failure. If anyone deserves a break, it's the individual or the property taxpayer.

March 08, 2008 9:45 AM  

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