Cash bleeding from state can be stopped

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Lawmakers in Columbus are, as you read this, working fast and furious trying to locate the millions of dollars that the state is missing from its budget.

You see, the state is in a fix, just as it was two years ago during the last budget season. And, if you can keep a secret, we know where millions of dollars are being wasted each year.

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Well, stop doubting; it's simple. Each year, millions of dollars leave the state of Ohio. That's right, it's taken right across the state border and the state isn't doing a thing to stop it.

What's worse is the millions are being taken by the state's own citizens.

Every day Ohioans drive across the state boundary with fistfuls of cash, ready to gamble. And, given the nature of casinos, more of their money is left in other states than returns with them.

This year, as they have each year since 2000, Ohio legislators are expected to consider passing a resolution that would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot for voters to consider providing an option for expanding gaming in the state.

And, if the past is any indication, all parties that stand to gain from such an expansion will selfishly insist that only the options benefiting them should be considered. If that's the case, expansion of gaming will have to wait again.

We hope lawmakers will put their personal agendas aside and simply let the issue get put on the ballot. At that point, the will of the public - not just the will of a few select lawmakers and lobbyists - can be finally determined.

Until a gaming resolution goes to the voters, the promise of making the government fiscally better through gaming tax revenues will continue to perpetuate.

Gaming critics will point out that the last casino-related issue to go before the voters was soundly defeated. And, while that's true, it was also 1996.

Lots of things can change in nine years. One of those could be public opinion on the matter of gaming.

No matter how you personally feel about gaming, we hope you'll support allowing the decision to go to the voters. Then, if voters so choose, they can attempt to stop the massive flow of cash into neighboring states.