Kasich’s Casino consultants to get $15 million from public education


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I just read this Plunderbund post about the Dispatch coverage of the contract Kasich arrived at with gaming consultants he’s hired to advise him about casinos in Ohio. Casinos the voters already approved and that were all set to begin construction until the Governor opened his mouth and started questioning whether we could get more money from them.

The consultant fees — a percentage of the state’s revenues from casinos — of up to $15 million are to come from the Lottery Commission’s budget. The Lottery, whose profits are constitutionally required to be spent on education. It’s funny, because I had been wondering why the amount of profits the Lottery promises to deliver to the state are projected to decline in the next budget, after year upon year of increasing profits. They claimed in their budget testimony it was because of competition from casinos. But, now, according to the Dispatch story, it looks more like it’s due to payments to casino consultants.

Proceeds from the sale of lottery games are supposed to go to education. The Lottery can deduct its own expenses they incur from the sale of Lottery tickets, but I fail to see how spending money on consultants to tell the Governor how to raise more tax money from casinos is remotely allowable. Not sure? Here’s what the Ohio Constitution has to say (§ 15.06(A):

The General Assembly may authorize an agency of the state to conduct lotteries, to sell rights to participate therein, and to award prizes by chance to participants, provided that the entire net proceeds of any such lottery are paid into a fund of the state treasury that shall consist solely of such proceeds and shall be used solely for the support of elementary, secondary, vocational, and special education programs as determined in appropriations made by the General Assembly.

This needs to be investigated further. At best, it’s Kasich taking $15 million MORE out of public education. At worst, it’s a violation of the Ohio constitution.

And what are these consultants going to tell him – that the CAT tax applies to casinos so he can extract more money from them and give the consultants a cut? His own Tax Commissioner has already told him that the tax applies! Poor Joe Testa must be sad won’t get a multi-million $$ bonus for that advice.

This is a huge rip-off. Of casinos, of taxpayers, of voters and, sadly, of kids who rely on increasingly limited public funds for education. But, somehow, it’s unsurprising.

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