Sunday, August 01, 2010

While Casinos Distracted Us All

The debate over casinos in Massachusetts, which came to a climax overnight, has distracted Bay State lawmakers from economic programs that could be creating jobs in the state.

Thursday's New York Times profiled programs in place in several states that take advantage of money provided in the federal stimulus bill to subsidize jobs for small businesses. The article talks about a few scenarios, particularly in Illinois, where small businesses have been able to fill openings they otherwise would have left alone, were it not for the jobs programs. As a result, those companies were able to grow and, in turn, potentially hire additional workers.

It's frustrating that Massachusetts was not one of the states listed as having such a small business program. I would gander that legislators on Beacon Hill have been so distracted by casinos that they have not had a chance to think about other programs that would help the economy in the Commonwealth. The casino debate has sucked the oxygen out of the larger discussion of how to create jobs here; ironically casinos themselves suck the economic oxygen out of the towns around them (something I outlined in a previous blog entry).

I am sure there are many other initiatives that, like the small business jobs subsidy programs, would help tremendously. My friend Tom Hopcroft leads the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, which supports the many technology-centered markets in the state. Earlier this year, at the group's annual meeting, the membership pledged to work toward creating a significant number of new jobs. Speakers discussed how to make it happen. It was very informative, however it was too bad that no elected officials were present.

Proponents of the casinos argue they will create jobs, and there is no dispute there. They also lash out at their opposition, saying lawmakers (including the Governor) who do not support casinos or the most recent casino proposals are voting against the jobs those casinos would create. The deeper truth is that there's no telling how many jobs could have already been created had the legislature focused on other programs---seeing success in other states---that can create jobs. Those programs were lost at the craps table.

P.S. The New York Times article is just one of many stories I have read recently that shows how the federal stimulus bill passed early last year has helped the economy in measurable ways. It's too bad many have already made up their minds that the bill was a failure.

P.P.S. Very pleased that my State Senator, Sonia Chang-Diaz, and my State Representative, Marty Walz, both voted against the casino bill.

Editor's Note: Referenced story is: "The New New Deal: Public Money for Private Jobs," New York Times, July 29, 2010.

1 comment:

O'Reilly said...

Where can I find the roll call on the MA casino racino bill?