The INDY and Representative Paul Stam have never really gotten along. In fact, Stam—a powerful Apex Republican who has served eight terms in the state House and is currently Speaker pro tem—makes a point of never returning our phone calls, ostensibly on the grounds that we sell naughty ads in the back of the book. But credit where credit is due: Stam, a stalwart conservative who once passed out pamphlets calling bestiality, necrophilia, and pedophilia "sexual orientations," is right about one thing. Relying on the state lottery for education revenue is terrible policy.
In April, when state lottery officials proposed increasing the amount of money the state spends advertising the lottery, Stam responded: "Some argue that the money plays an important role in supporting education. Many have persuasively argued that the lottery actually reduces support for education funding since gamblers think they have done their part for education by buying tickets. What this increased advertising would really do is produce more misleading and deceptive advertising."
He is correct that the lottery is a form of taxation—specifically, a tax on the poor, who are more likely to both buy tickets and spend a larger share of their income on tickets. As a Carnegie Mellon University study found, "Lotteries set off a vicious cycle that not only exploits low-income individuals' desires to escape poverty but also directly prevents them from improving their financial situation."
Stam is leaving the legislature after this session. For the most part, we won't miss him. But hey, even a stopped clock, right?