Baptists want Scott to say ‘no dice’ to gambling studyby John Kennedy | May 23rd, 2011
Florida Baptists are weighing in with budget advice for Rick Scott, urging the governor to veto a $400,000 provision for a comprehensive gambling study pivoted around a plan to bring resort casinos to Florida.
Bill Bunkley, lobbyist for the Florida Baptist Convention, has written Scott asking him to veto the Legislature’s assignment for the Office of Program Policy and Government Accountability (OPPAGA). Baptists also want Scott to increase funding for the state’s compulsive gambling program, which absorbs about a two-thirds reduction — to $264,700 — in the budget.
But the resorts casinos idea draws the Baptists sharpest criticism. The Las Vegas Sands promoted the casino-convention center-resort idea as a potential Miami Beach draw. It also muscled-up its lobbying lineup during the recently completed legislative session and is positioned for a return fight next spring.
Supporters see the OPPAGA study as bolstering the effort. But the Baptist Convention sees no reason for taxpayers financing the research.
“The language directs a taxpayer study via the implementing language to determine the benefits of these gambling activities to the state of Florida,” Bunkley wrote Scott. “Nothing is mentioned in the implementing language to generate a balanced report that also explores the huge social costs which the state will without a doubt also be picking up the tab for.”
Bunkley said lawmakers over the coming year also should work to restore the almost two-thirds cut imposed on the state’s compulsive gambling treatment services, reduced in the budget before Scott from $750,000 last year.