Chad’s Morning Brief: Texas Lawmakers and the Future of the Texas Lottery, Is the Gay Marriage Debate Over, and Other Top Stories
Should the Texas Lottery stay or should it go? That is the question state lawmakers are going over according to the Dallas Morning News.
Members of the committee seemed reluctant to make any move toward eliminating the state lotto given the amount of money the program has raised for public schools.In 2013 when the Texas Lottery Commission was up for sunset review, the Texas House voted 81-65 to abolish the state lottery. Within hours, the House reconsidered the vote after some members questioned how the state would fill the $2 billion hole in the education budget that would be creating by doing away with the lotto. The House eventually voted 88-54 to pass the sunset bill, but tacked on an amendment to would convene a joint committee to study the impact of eliminating the lotto.
On Wednesday, that 10-member commission heard testimony on the costs and benefits of continuing the state’s lotto. No member voiced a desire to eliminate the lottery, but some lawmakers raised concerns about disproportionate sales to low income districts around the state.
“I’m not saying the lottery is bad, I’m saying I’ve got people [in my district] who shouldn’t be spending their rent money on the lottery,” said Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston.
In the 2014 fiscal year, the Texas Lottery Commission had record revenues, despite declines in recent years in the number of people playing, according to state surveys. Since ticket sales began in 1992, the lotto has raised $17 billion for public schools. In 2014, of the $4.3 made in revenue, $1.22 billion went to schools. Veteran-themed scratch off tickets raised $11.5 million for the Fund for Veterans’ Assistance, the commission said.
The University of Houston Hobby Center for Public Policy conducts an annual telephone survey for the state to assess who’s buying lottery tickets. Jim Granato, director of the center, testified that based on phone interviews with people around the state, the survey found that income was not a determining factor in lotto ticket sales.
But a review of ticket sales contradicted the state’s survey findings. Ticket sales are highest in districts that also receive the greatest amount of public assistance through programs such as SNAP and Medicaid, said Rob Kohler, a consultant for the Christian Life Commission. The regions where sales are highest produce a policy dilemma, , he said.
“As a state policy, we don’t think that we should on one hand allow a situation where you’re helping folks with taxpayers dollars” and on the other sell state-sanctioned lotto tickets in the same area, he said.
What do you think about this issue? Personally, I have no problem with the lottery but I do think counting on it to help fund education is stupid. Instead, have the money flow into the general fund and use the money where needed.
You can read the entire story by clicking the link above.
Gay Marriage Debate Over?
Have Republicans given up on the gay marriage debate? Howard Kurtz of FOX News seems to think that many have.
But Cruz and Huckabee are exceptions. The silence on the right is deafening. We haven’t seen conservative commentators on Fox denouncing what the Supreme Court did. And many Republicans are simply ducking the issue.
With public opinion increasingly favoring gay marriage, it seems the conservative movement has essentially surrendered. And with gay weddings soon to be performed in 30 states, that is unlikely to change.
I should stop right here and point out that a major chunk of the country still believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Their views should be respected, but are often minimized by the mainstream media, which are undeniably liberal on this issue. And obviously there are still advocates battling this legal trend.
But the Republican National Committee put out no statement on Monday’s ruling, and when MSNBC asked Reince Priebus about that yesterday, he sounded rather obligatory in saying “I’m not running from that position” against gay marriage. Earlier, Michele Bachmann said gay marriage was “not an issue” in the midterms and pronounced questions about it “boring.”
This is, to put it mildly, an incredible sea change from 10 years ago, when George W. Bush ran for reelection on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. And just 2-1/2 years ago, Barack Obama had not yet endorsed gay marriage.
The dramatic shift in public opinion, especially among younger folks, can be traced to the fact that as individual states allowed gays to marry, the sky didn’t fall and people grew accustomed to the idea.
The media coverage—and this was true again this week—tends to play up footage and photos of happy couples celebrating, and that becomes the public face of the story. The same is true as Virginia, Wisconsin, Indiana, Oklahoma and Utah now begin to allow gay marriage in the wake of the high court’s decision.
While Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz want the debate, I don't believe that most Republicans do. In fact I think many Republican lawmakers would be just fine if the issue went away all together.
You can read the full story by clicking on the link above.
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