I appreciate so much the casino article by former Delegate Pat McGeehan. While I lived out of state years ago, I listened from afar about all the bright prospects about having the casinos come to West Virginia. How could anyone refuse a business that promised enormous percentages of the revenues to the local legislatures?
So many friends of my parents seemed to have the attitude: "Well, I don't like the idea, but then I don't have to go; if most people want it, let them approve it." Well, what a surprise. It turns out we all get to contribute whether we like it or not to the tune of $100,000,000 of our tax revenues.
The big pitch was that these casinos were going to contribute to our communities. It turns out they give with one hand while quietly taking with the other. Yes, they provide jobs. Yes, some patrons eat in local restaurants and buy gas from local stations. Some may stay in our hotels. Yes, they contribute revenue to Wheeling and Ohio County.
But now the taxpayer is going to contribute $2,500,000 to each of four casino in each of the coming 10 years. For 10 years Brinks trucks will roll up to the door to unload bags of cash in March and September. How long does it take to carry in $1,250,000 in $100 bills? Damn, probably the Federal Reserve will be lobbied to re-release the $10,000 bill which was outlawed many years ago to frustrate drug trafficking banking. But of course, in our day, we don't need the bills. The funds can be transferred electronically ... on any given day ... and no one will even know that it happened, not the day, not the hour. Unless you see the smiling faces at the south end of the Island.
But who can blame them? Surely the attitude of all of us who have asked for money is: If you don't ask you won't know what is possible. There ya go. They asked. They hoped. And other negotiations, undoubtedly. And they got it!
Next year when the state of West Virginia anticipates a budget deficit of $200 million, how many times will we hear from our legislators: There is no money for that in the budget? Times are very tough; state revenue is down.
We have to tighten the belt; no can do for you.
And year after year, we will be funding four casinos. Lord above, surely other casinos will want to come to West Virginia with funds like this available.
In recent months, I have seen 10 references to West Virginia as a state that has budgeted so carefully and wisely over recent years that we have a surplus while most other states are wildly out of balance. It seems to be amazing that the hillbillies can be so fiscally clever. Apparently the legislature has a wild swing in some other direction! This will make for interesting commentary on the late night shows and travelling comics.
I am very disappointed in Mr. Klempa and Mr. Yost and the rest of the boneheads who place the casinos so far ahead of 3,000 other serious needs within our state, many of them needs of adults and children. There won't be funds. I'm sure. After all, the money is already spent!