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Allow fraternal groups slots to raise state cash

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Thirteen weeks at the State Capitol to solve one basic problem facing the state: the budget deficit; and those we elected to serve us could not accomplish that feat.

It seems both the Republicans and Democrats we sent to St. Paul are more interested in preserving their political ideology and their respective special interest groups than solving the problems of the citizens.

One day after the close of the legislative session, Democrats were flying around the state pointing fingers at the governor for his lack of cooperation. The Republican governor held a press conference gleefully pointing out the shortcomings of the budgets sent to him by the Legislature and vowing to line-item veto items he deemed frivolous.

What a circus! It's time for both parties to find solutions to bridging that budget gap and stop the political posturing.

I think both parties came to agreement on a series of cost-saving measures, but there remained about a $1 billion difference on how to bridge the gap. The Democrats offered a series of tax increases, to which the governor said "no." Some Republicans offered up an expansion of gaming to include a "racino" or slot machines at Canturbury Downs to close the deficit.

Some within both parties may have difficulty with expansion of gaming at Canturbury. The Democrats do not wish to offend one of their main constituency groups, the native Americans and their gaming industry. The Republicans also do not wish to alienate their more "conservative" wing with what they may find morally objectionable.

But here is a possible solution to raise, not only the $1 billion for this budget cycle, but for permanent budget enhancement: Offer slot machines or other gaming machines to the fraternal organizations around the state. Organizations such as American Legion posts, VFW clubs, the Eagles, etc., already offer pull tabs whose profits are put back into their respective communities for various local projects. By offering casino-type gaming to those same organizations, allowing a 50-50 split between the state and the local community, there are "no losers" in this. This would be a win-win-win situation. No one politically opposes veterans' organizations or fraternal clubs. There would not be a private entity, like Canturbury, to pose a threat to the existing casinos in the state.

The state would reap a new revenue stream. There, a win-win-win solution.

John W. Johnson

Warren

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