State budget crisis: 3 solutions and a nonstarter on table

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The ideal solution to the budget crisis that the state is facing would be to cut, cut, cut. The reality, however, is there will always be those who cry foul and swear that tough cuts can’t be made. They’ll insist government won’t have enough left as if the government will ever have “enough.”

So as we limp on to find a solution to the budget crisis it looks like conservatives are left with three viable choices.

The hard-line fiscal conservative position says with certainly tax increases can’t happen.

The hard-line social conservative position is do not consider expand gaming or create a lottery.

There are conservatives and progressives alike who will say the cuts are too deep and are just unrealistic to fill the whole budget gap.

What happens when it’s clear it will likely have to be tax increases or gaming expansion? Which road do you take?

Well, I’ll tell you what road you don’t take. You don’t take what amounts to a bribe (even if called something else) to pull a free-market proposal and hand exclusive rights to one group of individuals. That’s the fourth option floating out there that I would say doesn’t seem viable.

How can either social or fiscal conservatives say gaming is bad and wrong except when these people do it and so we will grant them a monopoly for it.

Let’s also face the reality we already have casino gaming in Alabama. There are also racetracks and neighboring states have lotteries that many Alabama residents play. The moral arguments don’t add up for small government conservatives. All the arguments about the societal costs can be used for smoking and drinking and I don’t see those going away any time soon. Adults have to be able to make decisions on their own. That’s a cornerstone of freedom in our country.

So what will it be? We’ll certainly hear more in the coming days as the draft gaming bill is reviewed. What I hope we don’t hear is any true conservatives saying that they’re for handing exclusive rights to one group in exchange for shutting down one of the first rational solutions we’ve seen on the table.

Photo credit: Dave Martin/AP

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