Published June 28, 2009
Gov. Ted Strickland's support for legalizing slot machines — video lottery terminals, actually — and placing them in Ohio's seven horse-racing tracks is certainly more acceptable than the asinine proposal for a constitutional amendment to permit full-service casinos to be built in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo.
At least under Strickland's plan, more than $900 million a year would go towards the state budget. The spending blueprint for the biennium beginning July 1 has a $3.2 billion hole that must filled because the state must have a balanced budget. The Democratic governor and the Democratic controlled House are at odds with the Republican controlled Senate as to how to make up the shortfall.
While it is clear that cuts alone are not the answer, the GOP leaders let is be known that they have no intention of supporting the governor's call for legislation to legalize the VLTs. Senate President Bill Harris has said Strickland should expand gambling in Ohio by executive order. The governor, aware that such a move will be used against him in next year's election, isn't biting.
Republicans, as well as the governor and most Democrats in the General Assembly, also do not support a tax increase or a rollback of the tax cuts implemented when the GOP controlled both the House and Senate and Republican Bob Taft was governor.
As of Sunday, there was a stalemate in the budget negotiations.
However, proponents of the casino plan have submitted petitions to the Secrertary of State's Office and if the signature requirement is met, the issue will be on the November general election ballot.
And while Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers and founder of Quicken Loans, and his partners have included a revenue sharing plan for counties and cities, the fact remains that the developers and the four cities will be the major beneficiaries of the casinos. Amending the constitution to benefit the few is unacceptable.
That is why Gov. Stickland's plan for slots is worthy of consideration — by Democrats and Republicans alike.