By Dan Kennedy, MediaNation
House Speaker Sal DiMasi can save Deval Patrick's governorship. He can do it by sending the governor's casino-gambling plan to the floor as soon as possible and then killing it once and for all. Patrick will thank him some day — say, in 2010, if he chooses to run for re-election.
Casino gambling's social ills have been well-documented, and would be exceedingly bad news for the state.Patrick's obsession with casinos and the money they will purportedly bring has reached a dangerous stage. As Frank Phillips reports in today's Globe, and Casey Ross in the Herald, Patrick made longstanding rumors come true by including non-existent casino revenue in his budget proposal for the fiscal year that will begin next July.
I am not going to get into a debate over whether or not the state needs the money. Casino gambling's social ills have been well-documented, and would be exceedingly bad news for the state. DiMasi has dropped numerous hints that he wants to defeat Patrick's three-casino plan, but has been wary of acting too abruptly — perhaps sensitive to comments he made early in Patrick's term that were seen as disrespectful. Well, it would be better for all concerned, including Patrick, to put this sorry chapter behind us once and for all.
If there's a budget gap, some combination of spending cuts and tax increases will take care of that. It is not up to those of us who oppose casino gambling and the crime, addiction, divorces and suicides they create to solve the state's fiscal problems. The state and local tax burden in Massachusetts is in the middle of the pack nationally, so the problem can't be so horrible that reasonable people shouldn't be able to solve it.
I also had to laugh when I read that Patrick proposes to use gambling revenues to offset an anticipated shortfall in state Lottery receipts. Casino gambling will almost certainly do considerable harm to the Lottery, making this nothing more than a shell game.
Mr. Speaker, just kill it now.