Connecticut is drunk on ideas for revenue
At a time when then nation’s economic crisis has states struggling to find innovative and enterprising ways to increase revenues, Connecticut politicians are showing their lack of imagination by considering measures that would increase the availability of alcohol and create a state-sponsored online gambling program.It used to be common practice for states to institute “sin taxes” on things like alcohol and cigarettes because the taxes served the dual purpose of raising revenue and getting people to cut down on their unhealthy behaviors. Now it appears Connecticut’s leaders, including Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, think we are not sinning enough. Malloy has already been in talks with Connecticut’s casino tribes to offer them control of online gambling in the state, and his office has floated legislation that would legalize the sale of alcohol on Sundays and until 10 p.m. each night.Malloy’s chief argument is that we have to be competitive with other states when it comes to letting people get drunk and lose their money. The governor claims the proposed legislation will also make alcohol cheaper for consumers.State-sponsored online gambling, Malloy says, is an inevitability, and we need to start squeezing money out of it before his nemesis, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, starts profiting from it. Even on the political playground, it appears the fat bully is in control. Maybe if Christie starts selling cigarettes in his schools, Malloy will follow suit.It’s bad enough that Connecticut’s lottery program already decimates the savings of hundreds of thousands of poor people every year and that our casinos make billions of dollars from widespread misfortune. Now Connecticut is planning to help you lose money without even leaving your home. You might as well just have your paycheck direct deposited into the Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun’s operating funds.Incidentally, 25 percent of all the slot machine revenue from the state’s two casinos and a portion of the state’s lottery revenues is supposed to go toward the state’s Education Cost Sharing (ECS) funding. Does anyone believe the state is properly collecting and allocating this money?Maybe instead of finding ways to drink and gamble more, state leaders should dry out for a few weeks and figure out why, after all that drinking, gambling and taxation, we still don’t seem to have enough money to fix our roads and fund our schools.