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Utilizing gaming revenue for good

Last week we received an email containing the gaming bill we've all heard so much about. For many of my colleagues, this will be the most difficult vote of the session, whether they vote yes or no. Whether the game conflicts with personal values ​​or whether licensing it within the state is an unpleasant proposition, this is a divisive issue.

When he's not in Montgomery as a member of Congress, he returns home to Huntsville and works in corporate asset management. Suffice it to say, I'm a numbers and hard data driven person. After reviewing the numbers associated with the gaming bill, we feel this is a strong proposal that has the potential to benefit the people of Alabama in a number of ways.

When it comes to educating the next generation, the lottery proposals included in this legislation provide a significant opportunity. Under the proposal, all dollars raised from the lottery would go to the state's Education Trust Fund, from which public education would receive the majority of its funding each year. Budgets are earmarked each year to fund priorities such as school safety, the Last Dollar Scholarship Program for students enrolled in community colleges, technology programs, and dual enrollment, all of which are important for students. It is an important driver of success. Current projections are that the lottery alone will generate nearly $200 million in revenue that will only benefit public education. Providing Alabama students with better educational opportunities requires serious consideration. For me, if this bill passes in the House, it will get my vote.

Meanwhile, gaming revenue is expected to reach $422 million annually. Proceeds will initially be used to cover costs associated with the operation of the Gambling Commission. This means that taxpayers are under no obligation to fund this government agency. The remaining revenue will be allocated additionally each year to support priorities such as mental health, infrastructure, veterans assistance, and rural health care. The bill gives lawmakers flexibility in allocating these funds, and as the state's needs change, the funds could be moved around to meet them.

Another important metric I've seen related to this issue is polling. A recent poll conducted by Gray TV found that 71 percent of Alabamians support creating a state lottery and regulating and taxing gaming to support issues such as education and health care. Another poll late last year found that 91% of Alabamians support the Legislature allowing Alabamians to vote on this issue, and 89% support legislation that would require all gaming facilities in Alabama to pay taxes to the state. are doing. Our greatest responsibility as legislators is to represent the needs of our more than 45,000 constituents. I think the data overwhelmingly suggests that they want to vote on this issue one way or another. I want to help them have that opportunity.

We have an opportunity to take a complex issue that has been controversial and harmful for decades and turn it into a catalyst for good. I have studied and heard from people I respect on both sides of the debate, and I understand how difficult it is to draw conclusions on this issue. That being said, we have been sent by our voters to do the heavy lifting and do our part to build a better tomorrow for Alabama, and that's what I intend to do on gaming issues.

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