Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Hard sell

Governor Rendell has invested a lot of clout in the proposed gaming industry in PA, and, in particular, in using the income stream from casinos to replace other sources of education funding (thus possibly enriching schools and buying off homeowners with lower property taxes). However, he's finding that the shift in funding is a pretty hard sell.
With a May 30 deadline for districts to decide whether to participate, Rendell has shifted into salesman mode, enlisting cabinet secretaries, superintendents and legislators to plug the program as if it were a candidate 15 points down in opinion polls.
They blame citizen suspicion about all Harrisburg proposals, but I'm not so sure. The suspicious School Boards are quoting real reservations about the legislation and its impact.

Check out the bottom of the article for an analysis of what the plan involves, region-by-region, and the pros and cons to signing on. Also see this previous post which touches on why the choice for schools is so difficult. The essence of the problem is this:
Further, school boards will have but one chance to decide - by May 30, even though they won't know how much property-tax relief their homeowners will get for two years, when the slot-machine revenue, the main source for the property-tax credits, will have accumulated.
That is, they get one, and only one, chance to trade a known budget size for completely unknown revenue flow that could be a windfall or a famine (and future budgets could be subject to direct voter approval). Doesn't sound like a great choice to me!


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