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Editorial: Numbers Game

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

For the new fiscal year starting October 1, legislative fiscal experts are predicting another $342 million that will need to be cut in spending over and beyond what was budgeted and spent in 2012.  You think our belts are tight now ?

Now – let's go back a week in time and think about what was going in 43 states.  Do you remember the news stories and facebook posts about the Mega Million Lottery Jackpot?  As you will recall – most of your friends and coworkers were talking about how and when they would be able to get to a neighboring state to buy their chance for a shot at becoming very wealthy.

Lottery winners are not the only benefactors as most states tax lottery winning's at 5% to 8%.  The Associated Press reported last week that the taxes on a Mega Millions winner in Rhode Island would have been nearly enough to fund an upcoming state affordable housing bond, or it could have been used to reach the state's goal for the amount of aid it provides school districts.

"Nothing is off the table, but tax increases" that's what state finance director Marquita Davis said as she asked state agency heads for "ideas for legislation which could increase fees directly earmarked for your agency or for the General Fund."

Here's our idea since nothing is off the table – debate again the idea of a state lottery as we are at a crucial fiscal crossroads that demands we rethink past decisions.  We must add revenue.

If you still think Alabamians are not ready to consider a state lottery drive over to Georgia the next time the Mega Millions lotto goes over $100 million and count how many Alabama license plates you see at gas stations selling lotto.   It might change your mind.

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