Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sure, Walker's $100-a-child giveaway is cynical + bad economics. But take the money, folks

I caught this "news" story from over the weekend by Wisconsin State Journal columnist Chris Rickert titled "'Dirty' money? Madisonians grapple with GOP's pre-election tax rebate." The premise of the article is whether "those people in liberal Madison" are going to sign up for the $100-per-child pre-election bribe from Gov Walker and the Wisconsin GOP passed into law earlier this year.
Madison mother Alisha Steele, 43, says her family will probably apply for the tax rebate Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican Legislature agreed to dole out in the months leading up to what is expected to be a difficult election for him and other Republicans this November.

But “I have really mixed feelings about it because, sure I’ll probably apply to get $200 for my two kids, but it feels” — and here she pauses — “dirty.”

On the first day parents of children under 18 years old could apply for the credit, some in a part of the state known for its liberalism in general and antipathy toward Walker in particular expressed similar reservations, while acknowledging that a hundred bucks — or 200 or 300 or 400 — is still real money.

“My husband’s perspective was, like, he rolled his eyes about it,” said mother-of-three Katie Crokus, 39, of Verona. “He’s like, we’ll take it. ... But isn’t that money better spent? I mean it’s $300 — we could probably apply it to myriad of other things that would be more valuable to the state.”
And Ms. Crokus's perspective is correct. Are there many better uses for the $130 million or so that this one-time $100-a-child giveaway will cost? Absolutely. For example, you could fill in all of the cuts to state highways that are resulting from the Walker Administration's decision to funnel $134 million to upgrade numerous roads the Foxconn-sin region. We also could use that $130 million to speed up the long-slowed I-90 project from the Illinois state line to Madison - I just drove this highway and 2 rough lanes are not acceptable to deal with for the next 3 years.

But you didn't want to spend the money to get this done

$130 million could have also been used to:

1. Restore the funding cuts given to the UW System in 2015, allowing for tuition to be frozen and for the UW to continue to offer competitive salaries.

2. Giving permanent funding increases to poorer K-12 school districts instead of continuing to leave them behind and continually be stuck between raising taxes through referendum or closing schools cut staff 8 years after Act 10 was supposed to solve these fiscal issues.

3. Banking the money to make sure we actually do have money left in the bank in June 2019, and to reduce the significant structural deficits that loom on both the General Fund and the Transportation Fund for the 2019-21 budget

And I'm sure there are many more ways to use $130 million that help a lot more Wisconsinites. But c'mon parents, take the money.

There's nothing wrong with taking a tax cut because of short-sighted, cynical GOP policies that you hate. - that's the fault of Scott Walker and the Wisconsin GOP. You can only play the game under the rules that exist today, and in 2018, there is no honor in making yourself worse off by playing by the rules you wish we had, so why would you hurt yourself by doing so?

It's not like that one-time tax rebate is going to change your buying habits or economic security, so it's not a move that's going to do much (if anything) to help Wisconsin's economy for 2018, especially in a time of rising gas prices and rents. But you're certainly more than welcome to give it to a cause and/or politician you agree with - after all, that's what right-wing oligarchs do all the time with the tax cuts their puppet GOP politicians give them. What we can do is to elect politicians in 2018 that stop putting us in a position where to stay afloat, we have to wait for the peanuts that trickle down from the corporatism that controls Wisconsin's economic policy.

Instead, let's have an economic policy that is designed for more people beyond a few key constitutencies or donors, with a time frame for an economic strategy that lasts longer than a few days of headlines or getting a few more coporate donations. It's time to get a Governor and Legislature that ynderstands that the best way for Wisconsinites to provide for their families is through good wages, stable communities, and continued job growth, not a one-time check for $200.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Dark Lord (and massive prison OT) cometh

Hanging with friends and attending my first Dark Lord Day at 3 Floyds Brewery in Indiana. AssuMing I survive it, I'll have more to say later this weekend.

I do have one comment- No surprise that Walker/WISGOP idiocy is now biting taxpayers in the ass to the tune of $42 million in OT at the state's prisons and hundreds of vacant positions. You mean when you take away people's bargaining rights and continue to underpay guards while having 20th Century "lock em up" policies, you have understaffing issues? SHOCKER!

Add it to the pile of reasons the Age of Fitzwalkerstan must end, I guess. Have fun wherever you are at (all 5 of you!)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Wisconsin with record April....and job loss. Be skeptical

The third Thursday of the month usually means a new Wisconsin jobs report, and sure enough, it gave our Governor a talking point on his re-election campaign.

Here are the toplines from the press release from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, and I’ll italicize one bit of news that is likely as buried in your local press as it is in this report from Scott Walker’s Department of Workforce Development.
Place of Residence Data: Wisconsin's preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for April 2018 was 2.8 percent, a decline of 0.1 percent from the March rate of 2.9 percent. The April decline is the 3rd straight month that Wisconsin's unemployment rate has declined or stayed the same. Wisconsin's labor force participation rate also increased over the month by 0.2 percent to 68.9 percent. The number of people employed in Wisconsin also increased by 8,100 people setting a new record for the state with 3,086,100 individuals employed. The year over year increase of 42,700 people employed is statistically significant according to BLS methodology.

•Place of Work Data: Based on preliminary data, Wisconsin has gained 11,000 total non-farm jobs and 8,800 private sector jobs over the last three months. Over the month, Wisconsin's total non-farm job number declined by 1,000, and private sector jobs declined by 3,100. Over the year, Wisconsin has gained 27,900 total non-farm jobs and 26,100 private sector jobs, including a statistically significant 13,700 manufacturing jobs according to BLS.
We lost 3,100 private sector jobs last month? Seems kind of important, and we also had March’s private sector jobs total revised down by 700. Granted, some of that can be explained away by the record snows for April (the biggest job “losses” were in Construction, which lost 2,000 jobs on a seasonally-adjusted basis despite having 6,400 more people working overall).

But likewise, the household survey which lists the “record 2.8% unemployment” counted +7,000 in the work force on a seasonally-adjusted basis, while actually having -6,900 for the non-seasonal figure. Seems odd that you’d expect more people to be working in April, but also expect fewer people in the work force at the same time.

Those figures also go with DWD reports which show that unlike the rest of the country, the Walker DWD claims more Wisconsinites are looking for work than at the end of 2017, and even more found jobs in the first 4 months of this year.

Wisconsin household survey, Apr 2018 vs Dec 2017
“Employed” +28,700
Labor Force +17,300

The payrolls part of the report (which gives total jobs) isn't as strong, but is still pretty good.

Wisconsin payrolls survey, Apr 2018 vs Dec 2017
Change in all jobs +19,200
Change in private jobs +15,900

If those numbers are accurate, it seems like things are going great in Wisconsin, and you can choose to believe that if you want. But past history shows that these gains will likely be lowered once they are subjected to the “gold standard”- the Quarterly Census on Employment and Wages (QCEW).

We saw this same routine last year, where Walker’s DWD was claiming that the jobs market was off to a roaring starting in 2017, and it turned out not to be the case.

Change in all jobs Dec 2016-Apr 2017
Walker DWD +27,600
Revised total +11,200

Change in private jobs Dec 2016-Apr 2017
Walker DWD +27,000
Revised total +14,900

Change in “Employed” Dec 2016-Apr 2017
Walker DWD +58,800
Revised total +22,200

Change in Labor Force Dec 2016-Apr 2017
Walker DWD +32,400
Revised total +10,900

With that in mind, take a look at what the DWD was spinning reporting this time last year.
Place of work data: Based on preliminary data, the state added a significant 37,600 total non-farm jobs and a significant 29,300 private-sector jobs from April 2016 to April 2017. Wisconsin also added 7,500 private sector jobs and a significant 14,800 total non-farm jobs from March 2017 to April 2017. Other significant month-over-month gains include 5,100 jobs in Manufacturing.
However, when those figures were benchmarked to the “gold standard” report 2 months ago, the April numbers ended up being a lot smaller.

April 2017 Wisconsin jobs, DWD vs revision
April 2017 change in all jobs
Walker DWD +14,800
Revised total +400

April 2017 change in private jobs
Walker DWD +7,500
Revised total -2,100

Apr 2016-Apr 2017 change in all jobs
Walker DWD +37,600
Revised total +17,900

Apr 2016- Apr 2017 change in private jobs
Walker DWD +29,300
Revised total +21,600

In addition, who in their right mind believes over 50% of the state’s private sector job growth in the last 12 months has been in manufacturing – a sector that accounts for less than 1 in 5 private sector jobs? As recent history tells us, those alleged gains in manufacturing jobs are also not likely not hold up.

Interestingly, Walker’s DWD usually would include information on what they sent to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for that QCEW report along with the regular jobs report that came out today,a nd the tiem frame would show the year-end amounts for 2017. But that wasn’t in today’s press release, which reminded me that that they also hid those numbers this time last year. Why? So they could dump them on the Friday before Memorial Day because they revealed that 2016 had by far the worst job growth of any year Walker has been in office.

Will we see another bad performance for 2017, with another year of job growth below 1%? Figures that we’ve seen so far from the QCEW make that seem likely.

So will we see Walker’s DWD pull another pre-Holiday weekend news dump to bury those facts? That also seems likely. At this point, I’m going to assume any good jobs news from Walker’s DWD will be BS until we get backing data from a non-WisGOP source.

Either that, or DWD Secretary Ray Allen and the rest of the DWD higher-ups need to show their work and explain why it keeps getting the numbers wrong in a way that’s helpful to their boss in the Governor’s Office. And I hope I'm not the only one asking to see the spreadsheets and survey results at this point.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Walker's "0%" budget instructions somehow mostly meaningless AND damaging to roads, higher ed

I wantyed to take a minute to break down what our Fair Guv gave in his budget instructions yesterday.
All agencies should assume there will be zero growth in overall GPR appropriations in each fiscal year during the 2019-21 biennium, and specific program needs should be managed within this general constraint.

Note: Exceptions will occur only for K-12 school aids; required basic cost-to-continue needs for the state's institutions, i.e., the Department of Corrections and the Department of Health Services institutions; entitlement and related assistance programs in the Department of Health Services (e.g., Medical Assistance), the Department of Children and Families' Division of Safety and Permanence and Division of Milwaukee Child Protective Services, and the Department of Workforce Development's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation; and housekeeping adjustments like standard budget adjustments, fuel and utilities, and debt service.
Sounds like tough budget constraints to keep costs in line and identify base needs that need to be met.

Except those departments and programs that Walker said wasn't subject to the 0% limit are huge ones. K-12 school aids will be over $5.9 billion of General Fund money by themselves in the next fiscal year, and Medical Assistance is another $3.1 billion. Then throw in another $1.1 billion for Corrections and include all other debt service, which will take $517 million out of the General Fund next year (with more likely to follow in 2019-20).

Put that together, and we are already above 60% of $17.5 billion in General Fund spending for next year that is allowed to have their costs go up.

What may be worse is what DOES get frozen out at 0%. It includes a UW System that has been defunded and denigrated for Walker’s 7+ years in office. A 0% increase budget would mean that there would be $60 million fewer state tax dollars going to the UW System in 2021 than there was 12 years ago, in 2009. And that’s before inflation. Then add in 6 years of frozen in-state tuition limiting the ability of those schools to make up the difference, and you’ve got a system that would continue to wither and have the state’s economic competitiveness decline along with it.

The same freeze applies to the Technical College System, which has 20% fewer dollars for instruction and services than it did in a decade ago. That decision to defund the Tech College System sure seems to go against Walker’s most recent ad where he tries to talk up efforts to improve the state’s work force, particularly in the trades that the Tech College System specializes in.

(By the way, the workers in the ad are employed by Walker’s donors at Weldall. Coincidence, I’m sure).

But yet road funding and other DOT duties are supposed to be frozen at 0%? In a biennium when inflation is supposed to rise by a total of around 5% in that time period? With construction costs rising even faster than that these days?

Keeping DOT funding at the already-diminished levels of 2019 means there would be no options other than more cuts to that needed service (which means more potholes). Or it means more borrowing in a time of rising interest rates, adding more constraints to a Transportation Fund that already has an unsustainable and increasing amount of debt to pay off.

Permanent metaphor for funding of roads and UW under this guy.

These realities is what makes this “0% budget increase” pose to be such a boneheaded double-whammy. The 0% limit avoids so many departments that it’s largely rendered meaningless as a cost-controlling measure, but the items that ARE kept at 0% are ones that have already been defunded and damaged during the Age of Fitzwalkerstan, like roads and higher education.

Can we get an adult in charge that actually believes in governance, and recognizes that public goods need to be maintained and reinvested in. Also can that person understand that math and inflation aren’t “liberal plots”, but rules and concepts to be aware of and follow? Thanks.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Retail sales decent in April. So why did Wall Street freak out?

For the second time in a few days, I found myself confused over Wall Street’s take on an economic report. Today it was the retail sales report, which came out this morning to generally strong reviews in the financial media.
U.S. retail sales rose in broad fashion last month as bigger after-tax paychecks helped compensate for rising fuel costs, signaling consumer demand was off to a firm start this quarter.

The value of sales increased 0.3 percent in April, matching the median forecast, after a 0.8 percent advance in the prior month that was stronger than initially reported, Commerce Department figures showed Tuesday.

So-called retail-control group sales, which are used to calculate gross domestic product and exclude food services, auto dealers, building materials stores and gasoline stations, improved 0.4 percent after an upwardly revised 0.5 percent gain.
So the increase was in line with what was expected, and if you dig into the report, there really wasn’t any difference than what we’ve been seeing.

It’s worth reminding you that the retail sales figures are not adjusted for inflation, so given that the CPI rose by 0.2% for April, a 0.3% for sales is barely any kind of real increase. I suppose the stronger revision from March’s report means things are better than we thought, but it’s not like things are booming to another level of growth.

In fact, it’s the higher price of gasoline that is a main culprit, as gasoline sales were up by 1.3% vs March, explaining more than 1/3 of the overall growth in sales. In fact, higher gas prices is the main item that has prevented the growth rate of sales from declining noticeably from this time last year.

12-month change, retail sales
All sales
Apr 2018 +4.7%
Mar 2018 +4.9%
Dec 2017 +5.1%
Sep 2017 +5.0%
Jun 2017 +3.0%
Apr 2017 +4.6%
Dec 2016 +3.6%

Sales MINUS gasoline
Apr 2018 +4.1%
Mar 2018 +4.4%
Dec 2017 +4.8%
Sep 2017 +4.7%
Jun 2017 +3.3%
Apr 2017 +4.1%
Dec 2016 +3.3%

Regardless of what looks to me like “meh” retail sales numbers, Wall Street thought it meant that the economy would pick up, and that prices would pick up as well. And they weren’t happy about it.
The bond market sell-off began after the government said retail sales grew at a healthy pace in April, signaling the economy started the second quarter on a positive note. Relatively weak retail sales in February and March were revised higher, another sign of firmer inflation…

Although rates remain relatively low, the speed of the move spooked some investors. The 10-year Treasury started the day at just 2.99%. And as recently as September, it was just above 2%.

Treasuries have come under selling pressure this year because of concerns that faster inflation will force the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates. A rapid rise of Treasury rates in late January and February caught investors off guard, causing stocks to tank.
This is the exact opposite of what Wall Streeters were thinking last week, when they claimed a 2.45% year-over-year increase meant that inflation was under control (despite it being the highest increase in over a year), and stocks went up.

A minor rally in the last 15 minutes of trading limited losses in the DOW Jones to 193 points, and the 10-year bond yield dropped back to 3.07%. But it was still a notable change from the figures what we had going into today, and given the relatively steady-but-not-spectacular retail sales figure, I’m not sure why there was such a strong reaction.

That is, unless the “wise guys” are catching up to the reality that the average person really is getting pinched by higher gas prices, especially with wage growth not being any better than last year, and sold off because they think the economy and its inflated corporate profits are going to slow down soon.

What the retail sales report tells me is that despite 3 months of higher take-home pay, there is little evidence the tax cuts are making American consumers open up their wallets, except to pay more at the pump. Keep an eye on this in the near future to see if these higher gas prices and higher interest rates start affecting through other sectors in the economy in the coming months. If it does, hold on tight, because we may start losing altitude quite quickly.

Ex-DOT Secretary says Walker avoiding reality on funding and fixing roads

Today’s Capital Times has a long article by Katelyn Ferral that discuss Wisconsin’s transportation funding situation, and includes an in-depth interview with former DOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb.

Gottlieb was a former member of the Assembly that served as DOT Secretary from the start of Walker’s tenure in 2011 until he was forced out resigned in late December 2016. That end came after Gottlieb continued to answer questions candidly regarding the state’s deteriorating highways.

Gottlieb was echoing findings from Wisconsin’s Transportation Finance and Policy Commission, which took over a year to study the state’s entire transportation infrastructure and service needs, and released a report titled “Keep Wisconsin Moving” in January 2013.

Gottlieb says that when the Wisconsin DOT asked Walker to back up the report the findings with actual cash, it didn’t happen.
The commission, championed by Walker and created through legislation signed by him, had 10 members, eight Republicans and two Democrats. Members confirmed its findings unanimously.

In his agency’s subsequent budget request, Gottlieb, a Republican appointed by Walker, asked for money to respond to the commission’s findings.

“It was well understood at that time by the governor and other people in the governor’s office that that’s what we were going to do, that we were going to propose a budget that we felt addressed these issues. That’s what I thought we had been asked to do,” Gottlieb said. “It took the governor less than 48 hours to reject that budget.”
And why did Walker reject the need to add more funding for roads for 2014-15? Because Scotty was planning to run for president in 2016, and kissing up to anti-tax DC BubbleWorlders like Grover Norquist was more important to him than a minor responsibility like FIXING HIS STATE’S ROADS.

In each of the last two budgets, the Governor’s office and the WisGOP-controlled Legislature have talked about how they want to add more money for highways and local roads. But they have failed to come up with the extra money via taxes and fees to do so, leading to a total of $1.2 billion in borrowing and more delays on already-overdue highway projects.

As Ferral points out, even with this increase in borrowing, the amount used for highways is less than we were using before Walker took office.
Much of Walker’s “actual” dollars were borrowed dollars, according to LFB figures. And although local road aids have increased, they have come at the expense of total highway spending, which, according to LFB figures, is the lowest it has been in 10 years.

Total highway funding has been on a steady decline during Walker’s tenure, from $3.11 billion in the 2013-15 budget to $2.79 billion in 2015-17 to $2.54 billion in 2017-19, according LFB reports. Money allocated for the highway improvement program is down 8.8 percent from the last two-year budget, according to the LFB…

“Don't they claim to have cut taxes by billions of dollars? Taxes have been cut but there has been no corresponding increase in transportation revenue,” Gottlieb said. “This administration has prioritized not raising fuel taxes over maintaining the transportation system, and they need to accept the consequences of that decision.”

This map shows some of those consequences

As the instructions for Walker’s 2017-19 budget were developed, the Governor’s Office told the DOT that spending should be limited, particularly when it came to the Zoo Interchange and other heavily-traveled areas in Southeastern Wisconsin. Gottlieb said that was the last straw, because it wasn’t realistic.
“They wanted the department to submit a budget that pretended if we just went along like we were going along, everything would be fine," he said. “That is not the budget I would have submitted based upon my judgement of what was needed.”

Prescribing a specific cabinet agency’s budget request is atypical, Gottlieb and others familiar with the process say. It’s a move Gottlieb said shows how the DOT, once a relatively apolitical agency, has become increasingly politicized under Walker.

“We got to a place where the facts were being ignored in favor of political spin,” Gottlieb said.
Anyone who’s followed Scott Walker’s career knows that place is the only one he’s ever been in, where poses and politics matter more than policy and results. And that non-strategy of avoiding honest solutions continues in the instructions Walker released yesterday for the deficit-ridden 2019-21 budget.

Walker tells most agencies to assume no inflation for the next two years (when the Congressional Budget Office says inflation will get higher due to increased deficits coming out of DC), and spreads that order to the DOT, ruling out gas taxes or fee increases to pay for the roads.
• The zero-growth policy will also apply to the SEG-funded administrative operations appropriations in all agencies that are supported by the transportation fund, the conservation fund, the environmental fund and the lottery fund.

• Funding requests for other types of appropriations and other funding sources in both years should be limited to revenue availability and only the highest priority programmatic needs.

In 2017-19's budget, the funding for regular state highway repair was $225 million below what the Finance and Policy Commission said was needed, and $273 million below what the Commission said was needed for freeways outside of Milwaukee. That's on top of the shortfalls that we saw in 2015 and before then.

Also note that some projects got moved up the pike under Walker’s “leadership,” moving others even further back. Scotty had no problem with throwing $386 million to the Foxconn-sin region to upgrade those roads ($252 million for I-94 and having his DOT send $134 million to upgrade the two-lane roads in the region). But Walker wouldn’t enumerate an expansion of I-94 to 3 lanes in the fast-growing Twin Cities exurbs last year, despite the fact that the St. Croix County project wouldn’t have to be paid for until the next budget at the earliest.

Given the higher inflation and the $500 million in the hole on highways that we’re already in due to the needs that have been put off in previous years, a "0% increase" DOT budget means there we are guaranteed to see even more potholes, delays and borrowing for the next two years if the voters of this state are stupid enough to return Walker to office after November 2018.

Instead, maybe we should have a governor who recognizes that it costs money to fix the roads and have a 21st Century infrastructure, actually PAYS THOSE BILLS instead of putting it on the state’s credit card, and realizes that the full state needs to be invested in, not just the Foxconn-sin region. None of these things will happen under a 3rd term of Scott Walker, and the "politics over everything else" mentality behind of Walker's inaction have already set this state back plenty. We can't afford to lose even more.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Sports betting is legal outside of Vegas!! Well, not immediately, but maybe soon

I got a pleasant surprise from the news wires this morning. Sports betting can become legal throughout all of America! Thanks to a 7-2 decision from SCOTUS today.
Alito and six colleagues agreed, including all the court's conservatives as well as Justice Elena Kagan.

"It is as if federal officers were installed in state legislative chambers and were armed with the authority to stop legislators from voting on any offending proposals," Alito said. "A more direct affront to state sovereignty is not easy to imagine."

Justice Stephen Breyer agreed that the provision directing states to maintain sports betting bans should be stricken, but he said the whole federal law should not have been declared unconstitutional.

Ginsburg and Sotomayor went further, saying the the law should stand. "The court wields an ax to cut down (the law) instead of using a scalpel to trim the statute," Ginsburg said. "It does so apparently in the mistaken assumption that private sports-gambling schemes would become lawful in the wake of its decision."
What’s funny is that while I think the 1992 law should have been repealed by Congress and I’m very happy with the outcome, I also think Congress has the right to outlaw certain forms of gambling nationwide if they so choose, just like other activities.

The problem I have with that 1992 law is that is specifically carved out Nevada from enforcement- it should be all or nothing at the federal level (and I favor “nothing”). Not that I’m a lawyer, but if I were ruling on it, the Nevada loophole is what I would have pointed to in order to invalidate the law, and I probably would have taken the Breyer route of “betting’s legal, but mostly because the bill was written wrong.”

Coming soon to the Dells?

Here's a map of who might be looking to open a sports book in the near future.

I don’t see any Wisconsin proposal that was made in this session that even discussed legalizing sports betting here, although Wisconsin AG Brad Schimel apparently signed onto an amicus brief supporting New Jersey’s stance that the law be shot down (wait, I agree with Brad Schimel on something? Strange bedfellows, I guess).

But other Midwestern states have been preparing to make plans to get into the sports betting game. I do see that the Illinois Senate had a committee hearing on it in early April, and that MLB and NBA officials testified that they were OK with legal sports betting (as long as they get a cut, of course).

Indiana also had a sports gambling bill introduced back in January, and used input from MLB and the NBA to “ensure the integrity of its contests.” The Indiana bill had notable details about how the pro sports leagues would get their cut of legal sports betting, as ESPN’s David Purdum wrote at the time.
The leagues also would receive a 1 percent "integrity fee," paid quarterly by operators and based on the amount of money bet on a governing body's events.

For example, if a $100 bet was placed on an NBA game with a licensed Indiana bookmaker, the league would receive $1 from that wager, win or lose. The leagues would not have a cut on the outcome of the wager, only the amount of the bet. That could produce a multimillion dollar windfall for the leagues.

In Nevada, for example, $1.04 billion was bet on baseball in 2016. If Indiana generated the same amount of handle on baseball, Major League Baseball would be in line for approximately $10 million from a 1 percent integrity fee.
Interestingly, Indiana was coming back into a special session this week. But it looks to be limited to five bills mostly dealing with education issues (basically Indiana GOPs are doing ALEC bills “school security” BS that mirrors the sham we passed in Wisconsin).

Also interesting was this comment in January (also noted in the Purdum story) from the head of the American Gaming Association, who said that he thought the pro sports leagues were missing the real benefit from sports betting - driving up interest in the sports themselves.
American Gaming Association president and CEO Geoff Freeman says the leagues' opportunity to profit for legalized sports betting is by increased fan engagement, advertising and data rights -- not a straightforward cut of the action.
In addition, Freeman said the Indiana bill might cause some betting places to struggle to survive due to the extra expenses involved.
"They have an opportunity to make money in a host of different ways," Freeman said. "It's going to take a little bit of work. It's going to take some sophistication, but it's an extraordinary opportunity. Trying to con legislators into giving [the leagues] a direct cut of the amount that bettors wager is a lowest-common-denominator approach and actually undercuts the entire business of sports betting and will insure that we have more people going right back to the illegal market."
Which makes some sense, when you think about it. If 1% of the TOTAL AMOUNT BET is going to the MLB and another 1% to the NBA, then how much is the casino going to be able to keep in profit? The “vig” would likely go up, and might be too high for the typical bettor to want to do it (would you bet $120 to make $100 on a typical point spread vs the regular “$110 to make $100” vig?).

That, or perhaps the vig would be normalized at $110-100 in the hope gamblers would also take advantage of additional entertainment options in and around a sports betting place to make up the difference (like hotels, clubs and bars in Vegas).

According to today’s Indianapolis Star, Indiana won’t be likely to have legal sports betting until at least Fall 2019, if it all. Partly because the next group of lawmakers to figure out if and how to legalize sports betting may not be ones at the state level, but in Congress.
The big question moving forward is how the sports gambling industry will be regulated," said Nathaniel Grow, associate professor of business law and ethics at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business.

"Rather than rely on a hodgepodge of individual state laws, the four major U.S. sports leagues — Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League — will likely seek new legislation in Congress regulating sports betting in a uniform manner across the country. Whether such a nationwide law will be passed or not, remains to be seen.”
So it sounds like I need to contact Mark Pocan and Tammy Baldwin and (yes even) Ron Johnson, and tell them that here is another case where they need to LEGALIZE IT!