It seems like every two years, just as the legislative session begins, so too do the conversations about expanded gambling in Texas.
Most recently, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) made comments that seem to signal he is in favor of “destination-style casinos that are high quality and that create jobs and that improve the lifestyle of those communities,” according to a recent article by Erin Anderson at Texas Scorecard.
Anderson noted that “the pro-gambling Texas Sands PAC doled out $2 million to Texas candidates during the 2022 election cycle, including $300,000 to Phelan, $225,000 to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, $200,000 to Gov. Greg Abbott, and $50,000 to Comptroller Glenn Hegar, all Republicans.” With that much support from gaming interests, it is hard to believe that we should not expect a significant legislative push for places like gaming casinos to get their foot in the door.
But is this the year? If you ask Republicans and Democrats in this state whether they support casino gambling, you are bound to get a variety of answers on both sides of the aisle. Although the Republican Party platform opposes the expansion of gambling in Texas, not every Republican lawmaker does. As we saw recently in the fight for Democrat committee chairs, the establishment lawmakers are often at odds with the activists from within their own party.
Texans for Fiscal Responsibility’s historical stance against gambling has less to do with the ethics of gambling itself and more to do with the history of corporate welfare on the taxpayers’ dime that all too often comes about as a result. Thus far, the only legislation filed to expand gambling in Texas is Senate Joint Resolution 17, by Democrat State Sen. Carol Alvarado (Houston). Lawmakers have until the bill filing deadline of March 10 to file others. If the status quo gives us an idea of what approaches would look like, it is likely that it will involve various “incentives,” which is simply a euphemism for more corporate welfare.
During the national anthem kneeling debacle, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was threatened by Dan Patrick to lose his subsidies if he continued to choose not to play the national anthem before basketball games. This is one example of subsidies being used against the recipient; there is always a string attached. This is how the federal government has been able to silence millions of voices through social media, by paying millions of dollars in subsidies to platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and others.
Corporate welfare has the same dangers that come with providing welfare to individuals. When you put yourself under the control of a government entity that funds your survival, you give yourself very few options when they start making demands. However, the biggest reason to oppose corporate welfare is that it hurts individual taxpayers more than anyone else. Who is paying for these tax breaks and “incentives” given to multinational billion-dollar corporations?
You and I are.
In a year where taxpayers are stretched so thin with near-record inflation and rising property taxes, it would be in poor form to hand millions of dollars over to casinos that stand to benefit while taxpayers drown in tax debt. We hope the focus of the 88th Legislative Session is to eliminate property taxes and give back to the people who actually fund our bloated government: the taxpayers.
Let this year be the year of the taxpayer, not the year of corporate welfare!
How can you help?
The 88th Legislative Session has begun! Your elected officials need to hear from you. Concerned taxpayers may contact their state lawmakers about any issues if they desire.
How can you help? Go read the Texas Prosperity Plan for yourself and voice your support for banning taxpayer-funded lobbying, eliminating the property tax, and freezing state spending by signing up to support the TPP. Sign up for The Fiscal Note to stay up to date on all fiscal issues that affect Texans, especially our broken property tax system. We CAN put Texas on a path to fiscal sanity and future prosperity if we amplify our voices loudly enough.