AUSTIN (Nexstar) – The 87th Legislature Senate Finance Committee met for the first time on Monday, February 8th to discuss the first draft of the two-year budget for Texas.
State Senator Jane Nelson, the Republican chairman of the committee, began the hearing with good news.
“The release of the biennial sales estimate, which resulted in an estimate of the $ 4.6 billion shortfall in July, [is] Now a deficit of $ 946 million is projected, ”said Nelson.
Despite the improved estimate, the budget must be tight in the years following the pandemic.
“It’s a responsible budget that meets the essential needs of our state,” said Nelson.
Some lawmakers gamble in casinos and gamble to make up for this deficiency.
Last year there was also a bigger surge of lobbyists in Las Vegas, including more than 50 from Las Vegas Sands.
MP Joe Deshotel and Senator Roland Gutierrez have already submitted bills to allow casinos to operate in Texas. State Senator Royce West, a Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said this was definitely a viable option.
“We need a recurring source of income. And of course that would be a recurring source of income when you look at other states, “West stated, pointing out that federal COVID relief that may be on the way will be a one-off sum and that Texas will need more to be dependent in the years to come .
However, legislation is not a new concept. State Senator Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, has been submitting a game bill for years.
“It’s been an uphill battle since I filed the bill since 2009,” said Alvarado.
“We have the bill now being drafted to get the file back up,” Alvarado said, explaining that the bill is aimed at getting Texas gambling on the ballot.
“I think it would pass if we got it on the ballot. And of course our budget problems will not be resolved at this meeting, but looking to the future there could certainly be new revenue, ”said Alvarado.
Texas Politics Project director Jim Henson said it would face resistance, as it has done in previous years.
“Conservative values” who speak out against gambling for moral reasons. And then there were those who were skeptical of the social dangers that might be seen as part of gambling and the gambling addiction about the economic hardships that could arise from people with gambling problems, ”Henson said.
However, the legislature refers to other states in which the system is already in place.
“If you go to Oklahoma, Louisiana, guess what license plates you see? You see Texas license plates. To make sure the revenue stays in the state of Texas, this makes sense to me, ”West added.