By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Legendary Auburn coach Pat Dye, has written a letter to the Alabama Legislature explaining his support for a plan to create a State lottery and regulated gaming:
“Alabama is my home,” Dye wrote. “I have loved Alabama since Coach Bryant gave me my first coaching job in 1965. So it saddens me to see the state I love facing this financial crisis.”
Currently, the State’s General Fund Budget is not sufficiently funded to meet its obligations. The State faces an estimated $250 million shortfall, that would effect health services, law enforcement, and other budget obligations.
Dye has joined with former Alabama Power CEO Charles McCrary, and Alabama business leader Raymond Harbert, to create the “Alabama Jobs Foundation,” a group dedicated to letting the people vote on a State Lottery/Gaming Constitutional amendment.
“I fully support Sen. Del Marsh’s plan for a lottery and casino gaming. I believe that a lottery and gaming must be a part of any solution to our financial problems,” said Dye.
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) has proposed a Constitutional amendment that would allow a vote of the people on gaming. The Marsh Plan, if passed in a referendum, would create the Alabama Lottery Corporation; allow slot machines and table games at the four existing racetracks where gaming is currently legal in Mobile, Macon County, Greene County and Birmingham; and authorize the Governor to negotiate a compact for gaming with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
Gov. Robert Bentley has been cool to the idea, favoring a tax increase to address the State’s budget woes.
“The people of Alabama cannot afford a massive tax increase nor will the Alabama Legislature pass a massive increase on the backs of our families,” Dye said. “Too many people are already struggling financially and those tax hikes will just be passed onto those same struggling people.”
Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) who has been indicted on 23 felony counts of public corruption favors a plan to give a gambling monopoly to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCI), in exchange for an “Advance” of $250 million to meet the current fiscal crisis. Hubbard and the Tribe have suggested the Governor can enter into this arrangement without approval of the legislature or a vote of the people.
The Marsh plan encompasses all gaming activities and would require a vote of the people to be approved.
Dye is serving as President of the Alabama Jobs Foundation, a group created to promote the Marsh Plan for a lottery and gaming. He is the former Auburn Head Football Coach and Athletic Director.
The Foundation, created as a non-profit 501(c)(4) organization, will raise money to promote passage of the Marsh constitutional amendment. Foundation activities can and will include recruiting additional business leaders to the group, staffing and operating the Foundation, lobbying members of the Alabama Legislature, educating the public, and funding advertising campaigns to voters.
Charter members of the Alabama Jobs Foundation are Dye, Charles McCrary, retired president of Alabama Power, and Raymond Harbert, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Harbert Management Corporation.