There’s so much good stuff in these reasons that I’m forced to extract small bits from each to identify particularly objectionable points. That is, as before, NOT an excuse to not go to Writes Like She Talks to read the detail.
There will be a final post on the 57 reasons sometime on Monday, depending on when Jill gets to Reason 1 (“ahem” :–>).
- Reason 9 — (in this instance, I’m going off on my own, because I caught something a left-of-center non-financial type might not catch) Conservatives won’t believe this language is in the amendment:
“The amounts paid to the state pursuant to this section do not diminish the General Assembly’s constitutional obligations. The moneys expended hereunder on scholarships and grants shall supplement, not supplant, per-student state resources appropriated for post-secondary educational programs and purposes prior to or after the approval of this amendment.”
This is an incredible power takeaway that would prevent the General Assembly (GA) from reducing post-secondary spending, for any reason.
We can argue all day long about whether post-secondary education funding in the state is sufficient. That’s not the point; it’s our elected representatives’ decision to make. If we don’t like what they’re doing, we just have to elect new ones. This mandate not to cut post-secondary spending also makes the colleges and universities less accountable, as they know that no matter how lousy a job they do, by whatever the appropriate measurement criteria are, the state money will keep flowing. Sure it will get watered down year by year as inflation rolls along (or will it? — Maybe a court will decide that the Amendment means that spending won’t be cut after considering inflation), but it’s still ridiculous.
What’s more, the Amendment locks into place the current way post-secondary education is structured. In a rapidly changing world, that is not a good idea. Five, ten, or twenty years from now, with technology advances, who is to say that the brick and mortar 100% face to face model will be the best? What if potentially lower-cost distance learning continues to grow? What if teacher and/or student productivity tools enable more teaching and learning to occur in the same amount of time, or higher class loads without sacrificing quality? Who is anyone to say that this won’t take place? Why, if someday the same results can be achieved with less money, would we lock the state into spending the money anyway?
To the argument that this provision will prevent the General Assembly from doing what it did in response to the lottery by (supposedly) cutting education spending from general revenues on elementary and secondary education, I have two thing to say. First, that isn’t what happened; educaton costs have inexcusably been going up at about twice the rate of inflation for decades, and the worst complaint anyone can have is that the GA didn’t increase spending fast enough for their liking. Second, it’s the GA’s call, and if we don’t like it, we have to change who is in the GA.
- Reason 8 — (this is one “tiny” part of a bigger objection) The $15 million license fee for each slots location is an unconsciounable giveaway to the corporate interests backing Issue 3.
Here is the key section from a Columbus Dispatch article on the topic:
“If youâ€™re going to have slot machines, why donâ€™t you let people bid for the right to operate them?” asked Howard P. Marvel, an Ohio State University professor of economics and law who has written extensively about government policy and economic competition.
Thatâ€™s what government has done with everything from the cell-phone spectrum to takeoff and landing rights at airports, he said, adding that gambling should be no different.
“Why donâ€™t you let people compete for the right to make money like bandits? ” Marvel asked.
Jeff Hooke, chairman of the Maryland Tax Education Foundation and an expert on gambling, said the value of a casino operatorâ€™s license is at least $200 million, based on prices for licenses recently sold in other states.
Under Hookeâ€™s scenario, Ohio should be getting $2 billion up front from the racetrack and betting-parlor owners who would benefit.
“Iâ€™d say the terms of Issue 3 are just a total rip-off for taxpayers,” he said.
That’s two experts who support the contention that $15 million is a ripoff. There is no excuse for not having the licenses for the slots location subject to a competitive auction. If Issue 3 supporters think $15 million is fair and would be the auction result anyway, they shouldn’t be afraid of allowing one to occur. But Issue 3 will enable them to avoid that inconvenience.
- Reason 7– The terms involved in describing how slot machines will work, accept payment, and network with each other have not been suffciently defined, and are vague to a fault.
- Reason 6– The terms involved in describing how the racetracks permitted to have slots will operate contain industry-specfic terms which are also not defined in the Amendment.
One example is “racing meeting.” I intuitively have an idea of what it is, but there are no specifics in the amendment as to length of time, number of days, and number of races per day. As such, I don’t see anything preventing racetrack/slots location operators from twisting the vague language to their advantage. At the extreme (I wonder how extreme?), the tracks could easily decide to cut back their racing operations drastically in favor of the more lucrative slots. Horse breeders and others who think that Issue 3 will save their industry should be asking themselves “What beyond the reassuring smiles of current backers is there to prevent this?”
Also, don’t lose sight of the fact that the ridiculous level of detail that has to be discussed with each Reason continues to argue against including matters such as Issue 3 in Ohio’s Constitution.
- Reason 5– This is a quick interpretation of what I see in the language about “gross revenue.” Gross revenue (which in the gambling industry is “the handle” or “the drop,” or total amount bet, minus payouts), excludes any profits from food and drink. It also appears that, even beyond increasing the size of horse racing purses, gross revenue from the slots is being used to fund other operations of the facilities that don’t involve gambling (e.g., site operations, salaries and benefits, payroll taxes), or to partially replace expenses that the facilities are already incurring (e.g., advertising, real estate taxes), before the taxpayers see a dime.
PLEASE grasp the significance of this. Unless someone convinces me otherwise, it seems pretty clear that the site operators wlll be using gambling to heavily cross-subsidize their other operations. Why is this necessary, if these sites are operating currently as racetracks and surviving?
One other thing: Notice how OL&E proponents have managed to avoid discussing “the handle.” If slot payouts are 95% of the handle (which I believe based on some quick Googling is pretty typical, if not a bit low; here’s one example, admittedly online, which shows an average of about 97%), patrons will have to dump almost $57 billion into the slot machines to generate that $2.842 billion. Assuming 6 million adults in Ohio, each and every one of them would have to “drop” over $9,000 every year for OL&E to generate the money it promises. You’re kidding, right?
Anyone from OL&E who wants to dispute my numbers is more than welcome to do so.
- Reason 4– This one is at least a three-fer. First, this group, a virtual Who’s Who of statewide politics and major civic organizations from all over the ideological landscape are opposed to Issue 3 (they missed WLST and BizzyBlog — How did that happen? :–>). Second, because the 24-page Factbook at the opposition’s site does a great job of explaining why Issue 3 is a bad idea. And third, because the advertising and the robocalls (linked at WLST) are very misleading.
I’m one post away from completing the 57 Reasons posts (or, more accurately, with one exception, glomming on to Jill’s 57 reasons and occasionally adding my two cents).
By now, it should be clear that Issue 3 has too many open questions, too much misplaced generosity to the racetrack/slot operators, and way too much vaguely-defined minutiae going into Ohio’s Constitution, to justify passage.
I genuinely fear that the intensity of the two-party fight for congressional and Senate control, the noise being generated in DeWine-Brown and Blackwell-Strickland, and the contentiousness of a great many local races have caused voters not to give much thought to Issue 3, making them vulnerable to the great-sounding but deceptive “for the children” rhetoric of Issue 3′s proponents.
Please vote no on Issue 3, and do all you can to convince others to do the same.