It’s not too late, if you haven’t voted yet, to cast your ballot for four questions we feel are especially important to the state’s economy. And, if you have voted and you agree that preserving gaming income and building our infrastructure and neighborhoods are critical, then pass this message to those who haven’t voted yet.
If approved statewide and by the voters of their communities, Questions 1 and 2 would allow for table games at Twin River and Newport Grand.
What has made table games – like roulette, craps and blackjack – an issue is what they could do to preserve the stream of revenue these two venues of video slots bring into state coffers. Putting aside the question of whether the state should be dependent on revenues from slots, this is the third largest source of state income behind income and sales taxes. It is expected to decline once Massachusetts casinos are operational, as soon as 2017. More than $100 million a year could be at stake.
Giving Twin River and Newport the right to offer table games would put them on an equal footing for the gambling dollar. As has been so heavily advertised, there would be an immediate return to the state of new jobs and additional revenue. We can use those jobs now and we can’t afford to lose out to Massachusetts. Vote yes for both these questions.
Also crucial to the state’s future are Questions 5 and 7.
Question 5 enables the Clean Water Finance Agency to borrow $12 million for water pollution abatement projects and another $8 million for drinking water projects. The money would allow the agency to carry forward its program of low-cost loans to municipalities and water authorities to extend and upgrade their water infrastructure. As these are loans, the money comes back to the Clean Water Finance Agency over a period of time, giving the agency the power to finance yet more projects. There are direct returns in the form of low-cost borrowing to municipalities and ratepayers and sustaining and building reliable wastewater and drinking water resources.
Question 7 is equally important to our communities. It will help build neighborhoods by providing affordable housing. If approved, it would fund the Rhode Island Housing Resources Commission with $25 million that, when leveraged with federal grants, would provide an additional $150 million for 600 affordable housing units. This would create construction jobs but also bring back life to vacant and foreclosed houses that blight our neighborhoods.
Like Question 5, this is an investment with immediate and long-term returns. They both deserve your vote.