By Stacey Brenan
Floridians for a Level Playing Field, a coalition of teachers, business leaders, parents, local control advocates and law enforcement officials recently kicked of its YES for Local Control Campaign. The campaign is backing Amendment 4, a proposed state constitutional amendment on the Nov. 2nd ballot that allows voters in Miami-Dade and Broward counties to decide for themselves whether to permit slot machines at seven existing parimutuel facilities in those two counties.
Amendment 4 gives government back to the people, said YES for Local Controls campaign manager Earl Bender at a press conference at the Hollywood courthouse in Broward County. This amendment empowers the voters of Miami-Dade and Broward counties to decide what they want in their own communities.
Amendment 4 requires any state taxes generated from slot machines must supplement public education funding statewide.
Bender says if voters authorize Amendment 4, Broward and Miami-Dade voters could subsequently approve more than $400 million to schools statewide in the first year -- and $2.34 billion during the first five years -- along with 18,200 new jobs.
The machines can only be located where pari-mutuel wagering currently exists, and only in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties at five race tracks and two jai alai frontons.
This is a great amendment, says Hallandale Mayor, Joy Cooper. It gives us control of our local communities, funds public education statewide creates jobs and helps boost our economy.
Law enforcement officials say creating more jobs and a strong economy means less crime in the local neighborhoods.
Thats what we want. We want slot machines to be regulated, licensed and taxed, says Al Cunningham, Crimewatch President. Im voting yes in November because creating jobs and funding education are important to our state and our communities.
State analysts and independent experts who assessed the economic impact of taxed, licensed and regulated slot machines at South Florida parimutuel locations found substantial benefits for every county throughout the state:
* New Funding for Florida schools - $2.34 Billion over five years
* Overall revenue (gross regional product) for Florida $7.7 Billion over five years and $1.54 Billion annually
* Employment and construction over 18,200 jobs, $713 million wages and salary income (approximately $39,080 per job).
* Local government revenues - $29.8 million in Miami-Dade, $36.6 million in Broward)
In a time when schools are under funded and teachers are underpaid, the extra revenue from gaming machines could have a positive impact on our childrens education, says Bender. The bottom line is Florida voters have the power to help our states children.
Floridians can get more information on Amendment 4 at the YES for Local Controls website (www.yesforlocalcontrol.com