Speaking of being out of touch with the will of the people, my occasional KOMO colleague John Carlson has proposed solving our state budget crisis by legalizing slot machines and taxing the profits at 20 percent.
Um… been there, done that, John. As recently as 2004, Washington state voters broadly rejected I-892’s slot machine measure by a landslide 62 to 38 percent margin, with the initiative failing in 34 of 39 counties. Under the late Norm Maleng’s leadership, the opposition brought together a coalition so diverse that it found me sitting next to Jeff Kemp at a strategy session, and when you have a tent that big, it’s hard to imagine John effectively working this issue from the outside.
Voters just don’t want slot machines in their neighborhoods.
But there’s one other interesting, if unintentional, point in John’s column, for in talking up casino gambling as an alternative to a sales tax increase or even (gasp) a high-earners income tax, our state’s leading conservative pundit, and one time Republican gubernatorial nominee, appears to all but concede on the question of whether additional revenues are needed.
I opposed casinos and gambling a decade ago but the tribes have made most of my arguments obsolete. The question on the table now is whether the state allows private competition and thereby creates a new revenue source to help our schools and keep down taxes and tuition…
Huh. That sure sounds to me like John is arguing that we actually need a “new revenue source to help our schools and keep down taxes and tuition,” which is a huge departure from Tim Eyman’s I-892, which promised voters a substantial tax cut in exchange for legalizing slot machines.
Welcome to the reality based community, John. Now if only you’d join me in supporting a new revenue source that has a realistic chance of being approved by voters.