Friday, February 23, 2007
Yesterday, Mike N left an interesting comment regarding my post on the debate that Texas is having over whether to sell its state lottery to a private company.
We are having the same debate in Michigan. Gov. Jennifer Granholm was considering selling the state lottery. The numbers involved are staggering. Last year the lottery had 2.2 billion dollars in ticket sales. $688 million went to Michigan schools. The remainder was paid out in prizes and overhead. The state expects to get $10 billion over the next 75 years and hopes to invest it and get about $750 milion a year in return which I suppose would make up for the missing $688m that went to schools.This made me curious, so I simply googled something like "Texas state budget" last night, not really expecting to find anything. But I did find something. And that "something" was pretty eye-opening: an 801-page PDF document from whose sixth page I pulled the below numbers off a table called "Summary -- All Articles (All Funds)" (Note: My row numbers are not the same as the "Article" numbers used in the document.):
I have no clue if these numbers are even realistic. But the number that took me by surprise is the fact that the $688 million that went to schools is only 5% of the state school budget. That means the total school budget is $13,760,000,000 per year. That seems like way too much for a school system in one state.
|Row||Category||2007 Budget, Dollars|
|2||Health and Human Services||25,168,886,971|
|3||Agencies of Education||31,045,826,173|
|5||Public Safety and Criminal Justice||4,576,834,755|
|7||Business and Economic Development||9,990,102,292|
Texas is a larger state than Michigan, but it would appear that Mike's figures for Michigan's bloated education budget are not only correct, but typical for a state.
Several things become apparent from this table. (1) Education is somewhere between a third and a half of the state budget! (2) As with Michigan, the lottery is barely a drop in the bucket. Our lottery provided $1 billion for education in 2006. (3) As I suspected yesterday, the welfare state is the lion's share of the budget.
For the sake of simplicity, assume along the same lines I cited yesterday, that the budgets for items pertinent to the proper function of a government represent an upper ceiling for how much it should take to run Texas. Those would be lines 1, 4, 5, and 9. And let's toss in 8 as a fudge factor to account for some legitimate functions of government which are already "covered" by unwarranted government intrusion. (e.g., The government has no business forcing businesses to abide by current environmental regulations to prevent them from dumping raw sewage into rivers, but if property rights extended through river beds, there might be some means for the government to monitor for such violations of property rights.)
These five items together amount to about 8 billion. (I'm rounding numbers and adding them in my head here.) Although the Texas lottery is but a drop in the bucket (about 3 %) towards our current educational budget, it represents a significant portion (about an eighth) of the ceiling for what it ought to cost to run a fully free State of Texas.
I will close by reiterating my main point from yesterday.
Rather than complaining that greater personal freedom might make "the ignorant" more able to choose foolishly, Casey would do far more good using his regular column to point out what less freedom -- in the form of mandatory public education funded with stolen money [that dumbs down our children] -- forces everyone to endure.Until we shift our public debate from how we are going to waste even more money on public education to how we are going to make it truly possible for parents to send their children to good schools, we have much worse to worry about than a few people paying "too much" in "idiot taxes". As it stands, we're paying enormous buy-ins so our kids can play high-stakes Russian roulette with fully-loaded revolvers. Rick Casey is far from the only one with the wrong priorities.
... And yet there is not one peep from him about abolishing the public schools -- and with them, the need for high taxes or a huge state lottery.
Today: (1) By calculator, the "upper ceiling" for the state budget I guesstimated above is actually about $7.2 billion. (2) Made some minor corrections.