Friday, January 9, 2009

LG Bill Halter: “No objection” to Evaluating Lottery Impact on State Economy

Lieutenant General Bill Halter appeared on KARN this morning to answer questions on the lottery proposal; sort of a mini-version of “Meet the Governor.” Being the diligent blogger that I am, I could not help but the call in and ask a question. I asked Halter about a key part of his plan which says, “The effectiveness of the Scholarship Lottery should be evaluated biennially.” What concerns me is this evaluation only calls for how effective the lottery is at paying out scholarships. I have opposed the adoption of the lottery primarily because of concerns that the lottery will have a negative impact on our state’s economy. The proponents of the lottery of insisted this was not the case.

I believe that an important component of the lottery needs to be a holistic evaluation of the lottery including an impact of the lottery on the state’s economy. If the supporters of the lottery are correct, then they will welcome this evaluation. When asked this question this morning, I was pleased that Halter replied, “I have no objection to that at all.”

Halter also stated this morning that he would like to get the lottery passed as soon as possible and begin selling tickets by the end of 2009. It seems that the lottery will be on the fast track during this legislative session. Rest assured the Tolbert Report will be here to watch what happens.

1 comment:

Cameron Bluff said...

Here is hoping that Rep. Greenberg extends his bill to ensure that expenditures are clearly and openly defined. Public schools around Arkansas are old hands at hiding expenses for their football operations into regular education expenses. State agency budgeteers and free-spenders are no less adept and experienced.

One area I am also curious to see opened up is the provision of state government vehicles to folks who have an office job, spend their days in an office, seldom to never drive anywhere work related, and yet have a state vehicle provided.

Examples you might ask? Well, how about the HR Director over at the AGFC who has a state-tax-payer-provided vehicle to drive to and from home. What possible out-of-office work would the HR Director at the agency tasked with protecting our flora and fauna have to perform?

Better yet, here is one that will send any Tom, Dick or State Legislator scurrying for cover in a heartbeat. Do Tim Leathers and Mike Stormes still have state provided automobiles for travel to and from home (well, and of course the occasional stop at Cuffs Cleaners down the road on the way home)? Their jobs consist of nothing more than traipsing back and forth with Big Daddy Richard to regale the legislature with their stories of budgetary woe and also offer up the occasional ribald joke or two. They WALK across the street to the only location outside their office where they are required to make an appearance. Yet, taxpayers are expected to pony up to provide automobiles to these fellows?

How about that big dog of the House of Representatives, old (and I do mean old) Tim Massinelli. He is provided a state automobile to drive to and from his home down in Pine Bluff. However, that isn't sufficient to ensure his needs are handled. During legislative sessions, Mr. Tim is provided with full expenses and per diem to provide him with a living location in Little Rock. So, he is provided with a vehicle, expenses and per diem to handle all of his required travel...of course, his job is in the State Capitol Building year round. A state vehicle does make a good vehicle to travel around to all the swilling events though.

Expenditure reports should include mileage reports on every state owned vehicle, to whom the vehicle is assigned, and a mileage breakdown reporting what trips were undertaken and start/stop mileage. The IRS requires me to report this information. Should we expect any less from folks we provide driving subsidies to?

And, one final little question for our legislators to answer if they might. What is the justification for a legislator being allowed the full IRS allowance for personal vehicle travel mileage and yet state employees are liminted to a much smaller amount? No doubt, allowing state employees to take the full amount would have a significant negative impact on the state budget overall. So, shouldn't state legislators limit their recoupment to the same amount they hold state employees too? Or, is it as I suspect, state legislators hold themselves in much higher esteem than your typical lowly state employee.

Perhaps we should do as they do at the AGFC where they actually have more vehicles than employees. Just give a vehicle to every employee you can find and let them have unlimited travel around the state.