Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley took his campaign for tax increases and budget reform to the Bessemer Chamber of Commerce today, where he was asked about whether he's concerned that Alabamians buy lottery tickets in other states.
Bentley indicated an Alabama lottery would not be the budget booster that some people think.
"Now listen folks, the lottery is like leisure suits," the governor said. "We're about 30 years behind."
Three neighboring states, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee, already have lotteries.
"We're a small state," Bentley said. "Nobody is going to come into Alabama to buy lottery tickets. The only people that are going to buy them here are those that live here, and that's just a certain percentage of people."
Bentley excluded gambling proposals from his call for a special session on the General Fund budget.
Bentley proposed $302 million in tax increases. The governor says he wants to change the budget process, partly by giving the perpetually short General Fund a tax source that grows and unearmarking some revenues.
He says gambling proposals would be a distraction during the special session and would not solve the 2016 budget shortfall.
"I have always said that I believe in the people's right to vote on an issue," Bentley said. "And I still do believe that. What I don't want to see is our political system corrupted by gambling money, especially casino gambling money.
"A lottery is a little bit different, because the state owns it."
"All I'm saying is, let's do things right, let's fundamentally change the way we budget in Alabama and get things going in the right direction.
"And then, if the Legislature wishes to allow people to vote on a good, clean lottery bill, I don't have anything to say about that, because I don't even sign a constitutional amendment."
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh has proposed a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment to allow a lottery and casinos at the state's four greyhound tracks.
Marsh commissioned a report showing the plan would raise $400 million a year and create 11,000 jobs.
A group formed to support Marsh's plan, the Alabama Jobs Foundation, released poll results this week showing support for a vote on gambling.