BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – During an in depth interview with Governor Robert Bentley we covered various topics including why he is now backing the lottery and his response to critics who call it a distraction.
In an interview with Governor Robert Bentley, we asked him about his new support for a statewide lottery referendum. In previous years, Bentley has spoken out against looking to a statewide lottery as a way to fund state government.
Critics, including former Public Service Commissioner & ALGOP Executive Committee member Terry Dunn, claim the governor’s lottery proposal is meant to distract from the investigations, allegations, and impeachment proceedings that have dominated headlines in recent months.
On Monday, Governor Bentley acknowledged that a lottery was not his first choice of funding methods to help struggling state agencies overcome budget cuts, but he disputes claims that it is a political move meant to distract.
Bentley says downsizing state government, attempting to raise revenue through new taxes, and other measures simply haven’t worked and now the state Medicaid agency is facing a budget shortfall.
“With efficiencies we’ve saved a billion dollars a year, we even in 2012 asked the people of Alabama to let us borrow $437 million dollars out of the Alabama trust fund and we did that. So, last year we tried to raise some, I think some very reasonable taxes and we did raise some, but we just still do not have enough money. Is the lottery my first choice? No it never has been, but it truly right now is the best choice that we still have left,” said Bentley. “I’m not for full scale gambling, I’m not for full scale casinos across the state. I don’t look at the lottery that way. I also said in 2010, I told the people then that I personally do not think it’s the best way to fund government, but I also believe in the people’s right to vote on an issue and so many people have wanted to vote on it so this is a means to an end. Many people want it just for the lottery and that’s fine. I want it to fund Medicaid and our essential services of government and really help the people of this state.”