A little over a week ago, Mayor Charles England of Grand Prairie, a self-proclaimed Republican, announced he supports locating a full-scale casino-hotel in his community. This is on top of his endorsement of Bill White, the Democratic nominee for governor. Is this a case of the tree moving toward the fallen apple?

When announcing his defection, Mayor England said that he supports Bill White because, “He’s proved that he knows how to squeeze the value out of a dollar with fiscally disciplined budgets.”

It seems odd that if Mayor England’s main criteria is fiscal responsibility, he would feel led to support the liberal Mr. White. You might recall that Bill White left the City of Houston in a budget crunch.

But Mr. England’s actions shouldn’t be too surprising. After all, Mayor England’s son is state Rep. Kirk England (D-Grand Prairie), who originally ran for office and was elected as a Republican in 2006, then switched his allegiance (if not his legislative record) to the Democratic Party a year later. You need to look no further than his declining marks on fiscal issues.

As a Democrat, Rep. England received an abysmal 27% on the Fiscal Responsibility Index, a 20-point drop from his previously rotten score in 2007, while serving as a Republican.

In 2011, the Legislature and governor will have to address a projected budget shortfall, which is reportedly going to be anywhere between $11 and $18 billion, depending on who you ask. Expanded gambling was initially thought to be a prospective fix, but those hopes appear to have been dashed.

At a recent hearing of the House Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedures, an official from the Comptroller’s office testified that, even if casino gambling was approved next year, any new revenues would be years out. This means if Texans ultimately support or oppose casino gambling, the decision can no longer be linked with the prospect of doing so to help the current budget challenges.

Our elected public servants will have to make tough budgetary decisions next year, and hopefully not on the side of new taxes to pay for big government.

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