A top-ranking Republican in the legislature says lawmakers shouldn’t count on the gambling industry to bail the state out of its budget crunch. Republican Representative Danny Carroll of Grinnell is Speaker Pro Tempore — the number three Republican in the House. Carroll says the future of the state will not be found in gambling. He says the industry must be managed and regulated, and lawmakers will have that debate this year, but Carroll says it’s a “joke” to contend the state’s budget woes can be solved by increased tax revenue from the state’s race track casinos and riverboats. House Democratic Leader Pat Murphy of Dubuque agrees. Murphy says when the state started collected gambling taxes in the 1980s, the money was used for one-time expenses, like a new building, rather than on-going programs. Murphy says it’s risky to count on gambling tax revenue for operating expenses, like the aid the state sends to schools. Murphy says taxes the casinos pay the state fluctuates, based on the economy, and he says it would be wrong for lawmakers to rely on gambling tax revenue to finance state government priorities, like education. Murphy and Carroll made their comments this weekend on the Iowa Public Television program, “Iowa Press.” This evening, there’ll be a public hearing at the statehouse to give Iowans a chance to speak their minds on the gambling issue.
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