California Governor Jerry Brown bet that a nascent financial recovery would lift the world’s ninth- largest economy enough to whittle down a $9.2 billion deficit. Instead, the gap has widened to $16 billion, according to Bloomberg News.
Brown previously said, at his State of the State address, that “he needs taxpayers’ help approving temporary tax hikes to help schools and public safety. It’s a tricky balance, with huge cuts to social services and schools, more taxes for Californians, yet a big investment in public works like the high-speed rail project,” according to ABC News.
Needless to say I think Brown is nuts to pursue the high-speed rail boondoggle. And while he has proposed some cuts he has also proposed spending increases. There is no way any of us should support tax increases – those are proven job killers. Approving the Brown tax increase in November is akin to giving cash to an alcoholic. Until Brown and our State Legislature deal with their addiction to overspending, no amount of new taxes will solve our state budget crisis.
Could legalized gambling help solve part of this problem? The State of Nevada legalized gambling during the Great Depression. At the time they had a large underground gambling economy. “Today, more than 43 percent of the state general fund is fed by gambling tax revenue and more than 34 percent of the state’s general fund is pumped into public education, according to Reuters.
The State of Nevada runs ads here in California that tout their lower taxes and pro-business attitude as they try to convince California businesses to relocate to Nevada. Well, perhaps it is time for California to offer gaming so we can enjoy lower taxes too!
The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) has reported that its gambling profits as of November shot up by 7.1 percent to $880.1 million, in 2011. Over half of these profits have been contributed by Las Vegas, which generated gambling revenue of as much as 9 percent or $495.3 million. The profits through slot machines alone shot up by 3 percent while the table gaming profits shot up by 18 percent, according to a gambling news website.
Why should California concede any of that revenue to Nevada? Can you imagine what sort of business casinos would do in Hollywood, San Francisco and maybe even Santa Ana? And near other tourist attractions, such as Disneyland, Universal Studios, and San Diego’s Sea World?
And despite these rough economic times, Indian gaming revenues are stable, with gross revenues at $26.5 billion in 2010, the National Indian Gaming Commission reports, according to American Indian Report.
California could be looking at least an annual $20 billion in gaming revenue! And think of all the construction and casino jobs that legalized gaming would create in the Golden State? Who needs the high speed rail boondoggle?
But why stop at gambling? Why not revise our Three Strikes law too? If all three strikes had to be violent crimes a lot less people would end up in prison for life.
“Under a new state law, California will spend $7.4 billion to build 40,000 new prison beds, and that is over and above the current annual operating budget of more than $10 billion. Interest payments alone on the billions of dollars of bonds that will be sold to finance the new construction will amount to $330 million a year by 2011 — all money that will not be available for higher education or other state priorities,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
We can recapture some of the money being blown on prisons and prison guards not only be revising our Three Strikes law, but also by enforcing Prop. 215, the medical marijuana initiative – or decriminalizing marijuana altogether.
We also could save untold millions by getting rid of the death penalty. Let’s face it. These criminals never do get put to death. Instead they file one appeal after another, tying up our courts. Just sentence them to life in prison, no parole. That may be worse than death!
We could also save millions of dollars by going to a part-time State Legislature. And by changing the way we pay retired legislators when they are tabbed to serve on state commissions. Remember what happened to former State Senator Carole Migden? “Migden, 60, will earn more than $132,000 a year as a member of the California Integrated Waste Management Board, $16,000 a year more than she earned as a senator, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Does anyone else think that is nuts!
Honestly, do we really need a full-time state legislature? Our state legislators have proven to be a bunch of useless gas-bags, so why not cut their hours and their pay? While we are at it we ought to also take away the legislator’s car allowance and per diems. If they want to serve the public, then let them do it at their own expense!
California can get out of the budget hole we are in. But to do so we are going to have to make some tough decisions – and we are going to have to start thinking like Libertarians. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have any answers, so why not let freedom lead the way?
Editor’s Note: I first posted a version of this article over at the Orange Juice blog on Dec. 11, 2008.