Gov. Chris Gregoire is “seriously considering” legislation that would allow four-minute Keno games as a way to help deal with a projected $2.6 billion budget shortfall.
The games could bring in an estimated $30 million a year. That’s not much money compared with the budget gap, but lawmakers are hunting for any cash they can find.
Or, you know, we could try a high-earners income tax, or even a temporary, broad-based tax increase, rather than raising revenue primarily on the backs of the poor and the gambling addicted.
Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Margarita Prentice, D-Renton, said she may sponsor the Keno legislation. “We wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t an absolute necessity,” she said.
Absolutely necessary? I’m sure Sen. Prentice could find other creative ways to raise an additional $30 million. Just taxing the contributions of payday lenders to her own campaign could get us a significant portion of the way there.
Another idea: eliminate the discriminatory tax break granted last session to print newspapers.
Oh, and a tip to the broad based coalition of bizarrely allied activists and interests groups opposed to expanding gambling in Washington state… as much as I sympathize with their needs and concerns, perhaps tribal leaders are not our most effective spokespeople?
Ron Allen, chairman of the Washington Indian Gaming Association, opposes the move. Allowing the expanded Keno game would take away money from casinos run by the tribes, he said. “The market is only so deep, and we’re close to saturation now,” he said.
Such a proposal also would lead to a large increase in gambling in the state, he said, noting that’s something Washington residents have indicated they don’t support.
Gee, I dunno, now that Norm Maleng is no longer with us to coherently make the anti-gambling argument from the respectable middle, maybe it would be more effective to have a religious conservative like Jeff Kemp publicly speak against the moral and social harm of gambling rather than having the chair of the Washington Indian Gaming Association pontificate about how much Washington voters oppose its expansion?
Just a suggestion from an ally who has spent much time and though effectively framing this issue.