Every two years, the Texas legislature votes on a measure to renew the Texas Lottery Commission, which oversees the many lottery games in the state, as well as authorizing charity bingo operations. The funds from the lottery provide $2.2 billion in funding for the state every year.
In previous legislative sessions, which occur only every two years in the state, the reauthorization has been relatively uncontroversial. Yesterday before lunch, the bill was defeated 81-65. Apparently no one realized that abolishing the lottery would have actual consequences. Both Republicans and Democrats voted against the measure, some on "moral" grounds that the lottery was a(n ENTIRELY VOLUNTARY) "predatory tax" "on the poor". All hell broke loose in Austin as House leaders had to convince members of the imminent $2B budget gap that would have to be cut or made up for with actual taxes if this vote was not reversed. Within hours, senses returned, cooler heads prevailed, and the measure was reintroduced and passed 92-53.
There are many lessons to be drawn from this farcical episode, most of which are self-evident. Fortunately, my representative, Democrat Carol Alvarado, was one of the consistently sane ones.