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Election Thoughts

October 17, 2006

So we’ve got this election coming up – which can’t come soon enough with all the carpet bombing of candidate/issue ads. I’ve pretty much figured out most of the candidates I’m going to vote for, but I’m still thinking about a few of the ballot issues.

Specifically, the thing I’ve been struggling with for a while is Ohio’s Issue 3. It’s being marketed as an education issue, but essentially it would allow gambling machines to operate in Ohio. It targets some percentage of revenues to go to education, so of course that’s what it’s backers are shouting from the rooftops.

Initially, I was just going to vote against it without giving the question too much thought – but then I started to wonder about whether that was the best option. I don’t gamble, don’t plan on gambling – but I do have a son, and he’s going to need an educational system that doens’t suck. It’s been almost a decade now since the Ohio Supreme Court decided that property taxes are an unconstitutional way to fund education in the state, and nobody’s managed to come up with an alternative, more equitable plan.

My big question is, why shouldn’t I vote for Issue 3? The biggest argument against it that I’ve come up with stems from the moralistic “people shouldn’t gamble” argument – which carries some weight, but that doesn’t really fit in with some of the other anti-paternalism positions that I’ve adopted. If somebody wants to gamble, fine – and I understand that a certain percentage of the population will gamble too much, need intervention/support, and I think I’m willing to undertake that burden as long as it’s a net benefit to society.

Another problem with Issue 3 is that their claims are a bit overblown – it’s passed off as raising “almost a billion dollars a year” – which is accurate, assuming you describe 850 million as “almost a billion”, and also assuming that the casinos hit their (absurdly high) growth targets. But, given the educational mess we’re in, even if its only a few hundred million dollars is that such a problem? The plan doesn’t raise some (very large) nice round number, so I’m going to vote against the good that it does do?

I really am struggling with this one though – I feel like maybe I’m missing something, and I don’t want to miss anything. What do you all think? Leave a comment, blog in your own space, email me, whatever – I want your thoughts.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Chuck P permalink
    October 17, 2006 3:03 pm

    If your legistlators in Ohio really had an ounce of backbone in their collective political spine, they would find a way to earmark a few hundred million for learnin’ the kids without any stupid gimmicky gaming machine made legal.

    I still remember when the state of Florida opened up their lottery. All the funds from the lottery were earmarked for education programs. The legislators used that as an excuse to begin to whittle back the normal monies set aside for education and send them in other directions, using the raging success of the Florida Lottery as their cover. Secondary education in Florida is as big a disaster there now as it was when I left the state. (My mother taught in Florida for 20 years and still works as a long-term sub, and she has nothing good to say about the state legislature and how much priority it gives education.)

    (Yes, the state of Georgia has this HOPE scholarship that is lottery-funded, and that has been a new program with the Georgia Lottery, and it supplies college education for plenty of kids in this state who need it. Yay Georgia. And the accessible higher-ed institutions in Georgia are criminally underfunded, when I worked in the University System I taught a load that should be declared illegal, and the undergrad education in the state of Georgia is pretty much sub-standard across the board. Access != excellence.)

    Vote no and tell your legislators to get to real work instead of giving you gimmicky options.

  2. Jamie permalink
    October 22, 2006 9:06 pm

    I have to agree with Chuck, personally. Normally I’m like you regarding the whole “people need to be able to make their own mistakes” regarding the gambling issue, though I personally think it’s pretty dumb.

    But the entire State of Ohio strikes me as so tax-phobic that they can’t get anything done. Just looking at the awful ads that Deb Pryce is putting out against Mary Jo Kilroy is proof of that – Pryce has no record to run on so she’s slamming Kilroy’s attempts to actually raise money to fund the state government.

    And who’s getting hurt? As usual, those who are the “have-nots” in the state. And that includes kids whose families can’t send them to private schools. There comes a time when you have to raise taxes. And to make public education more than just a joke is most certainly one of those times. It’s pathetic that people will shell out dollar after dollar for things like pro sports, gas guzzler cars, etc., but when it comes time to fund education via taxes they say no.

    At least in Michigan, they had the cajones to try something new when they dropped property taxes as the source for education and added 2 cents to the state sales tax to fund it.

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