Gambling With The Budget

Mid-Term Elections are just around the corner. One of the biggest issues winners will face is the growing State Budget shortfall. Depending on which side of the aisle you listen to, Texas faces a $10B-$25B gap in the 2011 Budget. Fixing that problem has been a point of contention in Austin.

One idea is to legalize gambling in the state. A recent Belo poll of likely voters in Texas indicated that near 60% supported legalization. The idea is gaining ground with Candidates, as well.

Republican Lanham Lyne and Democrat Michael Smith are running against each other for Texas State House Seat 69. Both are open to the idea.

"People are going to gamble, we see a lot of our Residents go across the (Red) River to gamble. It could be a solution.", said Lyne. Smith is open to options. "I think in Texas, particularly at this time with our economic difficulties, we need to put anything that's a revenue generator on the table.", said Smith.

Many religious groups oppose the idea. They cite moral and social issues as cause to keep gambling out of Texas. That is something both Lyne and Smith are wary of, too. "I'm really worried about the social costs of doing that, because I've seen the social costs of doing it in other places.", said Lyne. The same issues cause Smith to be concerned, as well. "I'm not saying that I would support that necessarily, but in light of our current financial problems and maybe even past that are we not at a time that we should look at this and see that money stream stay in our state.", said Smith.

The idea is not an end-all-be-all measure for either Candidate. Lyne proposes balancing the budget by finding ways to cut current agency spending. Smith says he'd like to review the efficiency of current state programs and make changes to help things run more smoothly. He also suggests dipping into the state's Rainy Day Fund. "If this isn't a rainy day, I don't know what is.", proposed Smith.

Paul Harrop, Newschannel 6