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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The lure of the quick fix

Maybe our elected officials aren't as different as we think they are.

Treasurer Tim Cahill, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray have now joined Gov. Deval Patrick on his previously lonely gambling bandwagon. Cahill in fact managed a backflip while signing on -- seeing quick cash in (sort of) dumping the state lottery he runs.

Politics being what it is -- Patrick is not as enamored as legislative leaders with Cahill's new brain child -- slots parlors -- sticking to his idea of mixing Wayne Newton with his gambling opportunities.

Cahill has proposed that the state sell the rights to as many as three slot parlors, bringing in what he estimates would be up to $244 million annually through a 27 percent tax on revenue from the slots. In addition, licensing fees for 15- to 20-year operating rights could bring in between $2 billion and $3.3 billion in up-front payments.

Treasurer Tim has regularly dismissed suggestions he is gearing up for a challenge to Patrick next year, but his newest foray into making policy rather than managing money leaves few convinced, particularly Patrick.

But he had some eager acolytes at a legislative hearing and at power lunches.
"It's been an issue which I've been talking about for a number of years," he said, before entering a luncheon forum at Locke Ober. "To have the treasurer bring it back to the forefront of the discussion is something I'm very interested in. I've always been in favor of slots at the racetracks."
Murray was a bit more reserved.
"If they're real, I'll take them," Murray said of Cahill's revenue estimates from slots, adding that she was open to looking at the idea further.
The changed economic climate gave Patrick the chance to take the high road he avoided during his battle for resort casinos.
"It seemed like the human costs would be less in the resort setting, and that the benefits would be greater," Patrick told reporters yesterday morning, adding later, "Whatever we do or not do is going to be with us for a while."
Yeah, but is any of this talk real?
"Two years ago they would have been flooded with applications. Right now the people who want to do it - I don't know if they can do it," David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said when told of Cahill's proposal.
What's perhaps more interesting than Cahill's foray into revenue generation is his flip-flop on the State Lottery, the agency is he charged with running. Two years ago, he labeled a Bill Weld proposal to privatize the lottery a "quick fix" and said it would not be in the state's interests.

Today, he touts that quick fix as $1 billion in upfront money and $900 million a year to cities and towns over 50 years.

Not to mention one less agency for him to fret over while running for governor.

Mr. Speaker wasn't buying this one though.
“You have to weigh the short-term benefits with the long-term benefits. I think with respect to the Lottery, once we get out of the economic problem we find ourselves in, hopefully that’s going to turn around and be more fruitful and then in the long run keeping it in state control will be more beneficial.”
You just keep thinkin' Timmie. That's what you're good at.

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Blogger Chris Rich said...

It's more like scheming than thinking. But, beyond the practical and moral arguments that handily nullify casino rationale, we have the timing problem.

The train left the station, the horse bolted from the barn.

We are in an a sequel to the great depression and these idiots want to fire up an expensive development project when people are hunkered down saving and anxious about job security.

Sheldon is so over leveraged he hasn't had money to contribute to his usual crew of right wing candidates in elections or meddle in Israeli politics.

Its as if the Beacon Hill shills live in some bubble world that somehow differs markedly to the thing that greets the rest of us at sunrise.

March 04, 2009 6:54 AM  

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