Nevada needs a state lottery because it doesn't have enough money for schools, and student achievement levels are falling because of the Legislature's penny-pinching ways.
Sounds good. Just doesn't happen to be true.
Assembly Democrats seem to have staked part of their political capital for the 2005 session on a long-shot bet with a payoff that doesn't seem worth the trouble.
Let's examine the argument as outlined in the first sentence above.
No state needs a lottery. Even though plenty of other states have one, Nevadans should realize it's a bad-odds proposition. As the original gambling state, we should recognize a sucker bet.
The state has plenty of money for schools. The Democrats keep demonstrating that they haven't really been paying attention, because the record taxes approved in the 2003 legislative session have created such a windfall that residents are demanding their money back.
Worse than not paying attention, the Democrats are sending a message that too much is never enough. The state has a $600 million windfall? How 'bout grabbing another $50 million?
Student achievement levels aren't falling. Statewide, they've stayed about the same in recent years - and slightly below the national average. Reform efforts at the state level (proficiency exams) and the federal No Child Left Behind Act haven't worked any miracles, despite billions of dollars spent.
While these reforms have been gearing up, the Nevada Legislature and Gov. Kenny Guinn have been pouring money into the state's education effort. Most of the increase has gone toward trying to keep pace with the state's explosive growth, but the commitment to boost spending has been there over the past six years of state budgets.
A lottery is a voluntary tax, nothing more. Trying to tie it to education is a ruse.