OPINION: Assembly should rethink budget cuts

Indiana public universities face losing $29 million in state funds.

Education is an investment, not an expenditure. When the Indiana General Assembly begins debate on the state's fiscal status today, it needs to keep that information in mind before deciding to make cuts in the education budget.

According to the Indianapolis Star, "state universities are targeted to lose $29 million in operating funds in 2002-'03 - about 2.7 percent of their operating budgets. Gov. Frank O'Bannon also would cut university building repair funds by $32 million."

To combat the deficit problem, O'Bannon is proposing, among other things, to increase the admission tax for the state's riverboat casinos. O'Bannon, however, is against allowing dockside gaming in which patrons can come and go from the boat as they please. This would increase the number of patrons to the casinos.

According to a proposal from the Indiana Casino Association in January 2001, the state would greatly benefit from dockside gaming.

"If the General Assembly passes dockside gaming, Indiana could have an additional $328.5 million in additional gaming and admission tax revenues for the upcoming budget cycle," said Casino Association Chairman Joe Domenico, of Harrah's. "I've heard of no other proposal that comes close to providing that kind of desperately needed revenue for the state."

O'Bannon needs to either get on or get off the boat. If he supports a tax increase for admission to casino boats, why not make admission to the boats more flexible?

Dockside gaming needs to be a heavily considered option before cutting much needed funding to improve Indiana's educational system.


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