|By G. Michael Dobbs|
There is a real buzz in the air. No, it's not kids anticipating a return to school. And it isn't the end of vacation season and the return to work (Who does this anyway? Don't you work through the summer?)
And it isn't the upcoming political races, either. Wait another week or so and that will officially be on the front burner.
No, the only thing that is causing hearts to race is the decision the Governor will make about casino gambling.
Will he or won't he? Will he or won't he? The announcement is due after Labor Day.
By the time this paper hits your eyes, he may have made up his mind.
Well, color me Kreskin, but I'm going to make a prediction: Deval Patrick is going to come out in favor of casino gambling for one simple reason we need the money.
Let's face it. Property taxes can't go up much more or more people will be leaving Massachusetts. The state lottery doesn't have a way of earning more money. We want businesses to stay so we better not tax them to desertion either.
No one wants to pay more in income tax as well.
What can we do? Thanks to the waste that has been associated with Massachusetts government for decades culminating with the most shameful boondoggle in American history, The Big Dig, we are between a rock and a hard place.
What else can Patrick do other than roll the dice with some casino money?
I don't want one in downtown Springfield. If voters in a neighboring town want one there, than God bless them and full steam ahead.
The majority of the last couple of generations of elected officials in this state have either done too little too late in retaining businesses to keep our economy afloat or have been serving up so much pork to their constituents they've not seen the big picture.
My biggest fear is too many people will see casinos as the only way out of our mess. They won't be. If we have casinos, the dollars they bring in and the jobs they create must be leveraged in such a way to make a deep positive impact on this state.
Two years ago the folks living in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast went from residing in America to surviving in a third world nation.
Our fearless leader spoke there on Aug. 29 issuing a report card of sorts and various platitudes. Bush said, "But let me talk about the school system. There is nothing more hopeful than a good school system. And I firmly believe that excellence in education is going to be the leading edge of change for New Orleans.
"Margaret Spellings, who's the secretary of education, understands this concept. The government has provided Louisiana with more than $700 million in emergency education funds to help not only the public school system but also the parochial school system. And that's money well spent."
The Southern Education Foundation in Atlanta, Ga., issued a report on federal funds spent on restoring schools and came up with the following facts:
"As of the start of the 2007-2008 school year, the federal government has committed approximately $2.5 billion for relief and recovery relating to education after Katrina. Yet, the federal funds for education after Katrina constitute barely two percent of all federal funding committed to address the disastrous aftermath of the Gulf Coast hurricanes. For every $2.5 billion spent for other purposes over the last two years, the federal government has found only $1 to spend for Katrina-related education."
"The estimated cost of hurricane-related destruction in K-12 and higher education in both states is approximately $6.2 billion, but the federal government has provided only $1.2 billion for education for this purpose. New Orleans colleges and universities suffered the lion's share of the material losses in higher education but have received a comparatively smaller amount of federal funding for damage recovery. In fact, foreign nations essentially have matched federal funding for restoring higher education in Louisiana. K-12 schools along the Gulf Coast received considerably less assistance from the federal government than they have needed. Some schools continue to require substantial funding. For instance, New Orleans had almost 50 public school facilities damaged beyond repair, and the average school building is 70 years old."
For the rest of the report, log onto http://www.southerneducation.org
Heck of job there, Georgie.
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