Republican lawmakers in Alabama are looking to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to help with the state’s $541 million budget deficit crisis.
On Tuesday, Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh filed a bill -- as a proposed constitutional amendment -- that, in part, would authorize casino gaming in four locations in the state and create a lottery, the Associated Press reported. The proposed bill also calls for various tax increases, like increasing the tax on cigarettes to $.25 cents, and other cost-cutting measures, but it specifically asks Gov. Robert J. Bentley (R), to enter into a revenue sharing compact that would authorize Class III gaming for the tribe.
"We have gladly answered the call to help many times over the years, and once again we stand ready to be part of the solution to this budget crisis." Poarch Band Chairwoman Stephanie A. Bryan told the Associated Press.
Jennifer Ardis, a spokesperson for the governor said that the tribe had met with governor’s staff about the compact, but no agreement was reached. According to the Montgomery Advertiser, Ardis said there were “a lot of questions” left to answer about the proposal. And previously, Gov. Bentley has said that gaming would not solve the state’s long-term budget problems.
"To think we have to depend on some of the most dependent people in our population to fund our government when corporations won't even pay their share — we're better than that," Gov. Bentley said about Marsh’s bill during a speech on Monday, the Advertiser reported.
But despite the resistance, Bryan said the tribe wants to move forward with more discussions.
“Like all of Alabama’s citizens, we are worried about the financial crisis facing Alabama,” Bryan told the Associated Press in a statement. “As a working government, we have been consistent in our desire to maintain and improve the quality of life for our tribal members, employees, and fellow community members throughout the state."