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Papa needs a new appropriations bill!
March 4, 2010 8:07 PM   Subscribe

Missouri is facing a state budget deficit, much like many other states. One state representative has come up with an interesting possible solution to Missouri's financial woes: the Powerball Lottery. Missouri HB 2131 would deduct $2 twice a month to purchase a Powerball ticket with any winnings being placed in "Governor Nixon's Scratch-off, Match-off Fund."
posted by borkencode (28 comments total)

 
The lottery: a tax on people who can't do math.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:12 PM on March 4, 2010 [14 favorites]


Imagine if "Governor Nixon's Scratch-Off, Match-Off Fund" actually won a multi-million jackpot. It would be like that scene on the Simpsons where Mr. Burns won the minivan at the baseball game, only with fewer pretzels and more pitchforks and torches.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:16 PM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


It seems this is more a lame attempt at political theater than an actual proposal to try to fix the budget, but still.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:17 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well then, leotrotsky, it seems like the Missouri House of Representatives would fit nicely with most of the lottery's core market.
posted by koeselitz at 8:17 PM on March 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also: Missouri doesn't tax things nearly as much as it could or should, frankly. I remember passing through and being a bit astounded at how little gas, goods, etc, are taxed. I imagine more people buy cigarettes than lottery tickets, right? So raise the tax per pack of cigarettes by exactly the price per lottery ticket. The state would suddenly have more money than they could win playing the lottery, and there'd be no chance involved. Jesus, it's even easy to spin, isn't it? "New citizen health initiative" or some such.

Politicians these days seem to be complete idiots.
posted by koeselitz at 8:20 PM on March 4, 2010


I think it might be relevant that Jay Nixon is a Democrat, and the person who introduced this bill is a Republican.

It's not actually intended to solve any problems. It's a stupid piece of political theater that's presumably meant to comment on part of the Governor's budget, which "comes from an extension of federal stabilization funds that has not yet been approved by Congress," according to the article.

Parkinson's point seems to be that "The odds of that, the second stimulus funding package being passed by the Feds are probably the same odds as winning the lottery"--but doesn't he have anything better to do?
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:25 PM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


> So raise the tax per pack of cigarettes by exactly the price per lottery ticket.

I'm pretty sure that if they did this the children of the future would be reading about The Great Missouri Cigarette Rebellion of '10 in their history books.
posted by you just lost the game at 8:32 PM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Missouri is a compromised state.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:34 PM on March 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


koeselitz: Missouri doesn't tax things nearly as much as it could or should, frankly.

Apparently, some Missourians think otherwise.
posted by chara at 8:50 PM on March 4, 2010


They need to quit the penny ante stuff and go straight to a star-studded Missourathon.
posted by codswallop at 8:59 PM on March 4, 2010


Koeselitz:

Cigarette prices have doubled in MO in the last 5 years due to tax increases. I'm not sure how much of that is federal or state, but yeah, cigarettes used to be about $2.50 but now are around $5. As long as my booze doesn't get more expensive...then we'd have a real problem.
posted by schyler523 at 9:01 PM on March 4, 2010


I drive from Illinois to St. Louis fairly frequently and try to let my tank run down when I do -- it's reliably $0.20/gal less on the MO side of the river.
posted by aaronetc at 9:08 PM on March 4, 2010


Voodoo coincidence alert: I came across the bill on my own not 1 minute ago and after having a little giggle at it, left the bill page directly for MeFi, where I found the same bill linked from the main page.

What are the odds--maybe I should go out & buy my own lottery ticket tonight?

And additionally on the "Missouri state legislators get to have a little fun every now & then, too!" front, check out this resolution, which starts out:
Whereas, the majority leadership of the Missouri House of Representatives believes that seeking solutions to the serious problems facing Missouri is way too difficult; and

Whereas, the majority leadership of the Missouri House of Representatives finds that criticizing Congress is, like, totally easy and great fun as well - way more easy and fun than doing real work . . .
posted by flug at 9:39 PM on March 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


The fundamental issue isn't stupid: the representative in question is objecting to assuming the Federal stimulus money in the budget. Obviously, it's a stunt, not intended to solve a real problem; it's intended to draw attention to a real problem, relying on money that hasn't yet been authorized.

So, yeah, I'd say he's doing his job, and he's even being rather amusing about it. He doesn't think the money is coming, and considering how blatantly obstructionist the Federal-level Republicans are, he may be right.
posted by Malor at 9:53 PM on March 4, 2010


What snark is there left, when a state government official is proposing gambling, on the vaguest, slimmest hope of winning a jackpot? Is it really that impossible to go back to taxing the corporations and the wealthy in this country their fair share?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:54 PM on March 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


with any winnings being placed in "Governor Nixon's Scratch-off, Match-off Fund."

Political cowardice. They should take the winnings to Vegas and put it all on black!
posted by three blind mice at 10:34 PM on March 4, 2010


Silly Missouri, the state isn't meant to buy lottery tickets it's meant to sell them. Although, even when they've got the cow you can't count on a government not to kick over the milk bucket. Here in Australia, this week the NSW state government announced they were selling their lotteries. A billion dollars right now for a business that brings in 100's of millions to state coffers every year.
posted by adamt at 10:38 PM on March 4, 2010


Is it really that impossible to go back to taxing the corporations and the wealthy in this country their fair share?
It's not very meaningful to compare tax rates for 1986 and before to rates for 1987 and after, because of TRA '86.
posted by planet at 10:47 PM on March 4, 2010


The fundamental issue isn't stupid: the representative in question is objecting to assuming the Federal stimulus money in the budget.
Aha! Otherwise it would be impossibly, fundamentally stupid.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 3:08 AM on March 5, 2010


I've always felt bad for the people lining up at the convenience store buying blocks of tickets with this look of tired resignation on their faces -- it's not that they want to play the lottery, but more as if they need to play them. Lotteries really are a tax on the damned.
posted by spoobnooble at 3:48 AM on March 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


I suggest they tax the consumption of their wonderful toasted ravioli.
posted by elmono at 4:42 AM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cigarette prices have doubled in MO in the last 5 years due to tax increases. I'm not sure how much of that is federal or state, but yeah, cigarettes used to be about $2.50 but now are around $5. As long as my booze doesn't get more expensive...then we'd have a real problem.

MetaFilter The entire American political system: as long as my booze doesn't get more expensive; then we'd have a real problem.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:55 AM on March 5, 2010


A win in powerball would only be a fraction toward the shortfalls the state is experiencing. Missouri has a constitutional mandate to balance the budget. That means it can't spend money now on credit to keep programs or funds running (with the exception of some crucial stuff). There can't be a deficit. As a result, to fund those crucial programs, other areas are being slashed.

While a win in the powerball would be fractional toward what is predicted not to come in, it would fund the state organization where my significant other works. Right now, she has no idea if she will have a job later this year because her area isn't part of the crucial funding demanded by the state's Constitution. Likewise, because of budget short comings, a job I had thought would be certain with a state agency last year has become increasingly unlikely. There just isn't any money.

So yah, this is a silly idea, but it could potentially at least help in some form on the insane possibility if the state actually won one of the lotteries.
posted by Atreides at 6:29 AM on March 5, 2010


Kutsuwamushi and Malor have it right. The current budget includes $300 million in federal stimulus that hasn't been granted. The republican's point is that if you're going to start including fictitious (or at least unlikely) revenue, you might as well start adding line items for revenue from things like lotteries. This bill was designed to draw attention to the issue with the current budget, not to actually increase revenue.
posted by ShadowCrash at 8:25 AM on March 5, 2010


Political maneuverings are often theatrical, and even moreso when the parties vying for control wish to appeal to the public at large. In California, threats of closing state parks drew a lot of attention, even though closing the parks would only offset 1% of the budget deficit. The attention spurred more people to talk about the budget, and it looks like it got politicians to move from their gridlock (I'm not wholly sure, as I haven't been following that closely). If claiming to spend $2 a month on the state lottery will get people talking about the crappy state of the budget, and in turn jostle politicians, it could be worth looking dumb.

As for an increase in cigarette tax, there are certain goods and services which people are rather tied to regardless of seemingly significant shifts in price, and even though there are options to cut those costs personally. A major example is gasoline, because people have places to be and alternatives are not easily adopted. The same is true for cigarettes, unfortunately more so because of the addictive nature of cigarettes. I wouldn't suggest doubling the cost of an item, but doubling the tax on the item would be noticed, but probably carried with no more than grumbling. Maybe there is a breaking point and cigarette smokers (and sellers) will revolt, but $9 to $10 in New York, people weren't revolting, but they were going to NJ or asking people to send them cartons from Florida.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:13 AM on March 5, 2010


I imagine more people buy cigarettes than lottery tickets, right?

WAITAMINUTE!!

You mean they aren't the same exact people?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:38 AM on March 5, 2010


You mean they aren't the same exact people?

I wonder if there's a population of individuals who, after a hearty meal or vigorous round of intercourse, whip out a coin and a scratch-off.
posted by griphus at 1:09 PM on March 5, 2010


As long as he plays the LOST numbers 4 8 15 16 23 42.
posted by brent at 3:00 PM on March 5, 2010


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