Slots Referendum Is Political Cowardice

As the General Assembly gets busy soon in a special session to deal with the state’s budget deficit, a lot of focus is being put on the financial “savior” of slots. But the problem is that the General Assembly and Governor O’Malley have displayed an unbelievable lack of political courage in calling for a referendum on slots.

Now, it may seem odd for someone like me, a believer in democracy and the power of the average voter to actually understand what is going on, but punting on the slots issue is cowardice defined. Rather than making the tough call and possibly irritating their constitutents who might vote them out of office (gasp!!), the General Assembly is obviously more interested in their political backsides than in actually solving our financial problems.

Under normal circumstances, I could care less if slots are brought to the state or not. I do think that it will bring in business and jobs and tax revenue, but I don’t think it is the proper long term solution to Maryland’s financial woes. I don’t subscribe to the view among evangelicals that gambling is inherently bad (and if it is so bad and against the Commandments, why do so many churches have bingo night?) But I digress. Gambling is a personal decision. I also am not much of a horse racing enthusiast and so I don’t care about that industry–if it were so vital to our state’s economy why isn’t it doing better?

But if slots don’t come to the state, then the General Assembly and Uncle Marty will still have to solve the budget crisis. Given their current operational ideas (increasing taxes), then having slots will help keep my tax bill down so in that regard I want slots to come to Maryland.

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But what I want more is elected leaders who have the backbone to make the decision themselves. They will be sitting in special session to solve a budget crisis where one of the major components of income for the state (one that is in some ways being relied upon) will not be decided for a full year and then will have to wait several months before we actually see income from slots, delaying relief on the tax front for at least 12-15 months.

We supposed elect these men and women to make the tough choices, to prioritize what is important for our state. The slots issue, like it or not, has become an important choice for us Marylanders. Punting on the issue is not a matter of governmental principal, power to the people and all that, it is about political CYA and for that reason alone, the General Assembly should be given a great big boot in … well their precious political backsides.

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