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Ron Sparks camp stops in Demopolis

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ron Sparks paid a visit to a rally held in his honor at the Demopolis Civic Center on Tuesday.

The current State Agriculture Commissioner said that he hopes to bring the lottery to Alabama and to tax gambling – an effort to keep gambling tax revenues spent by Alabamians within the state of Alabama.

“I am the only one who has said that we’ve got gambling in this state and we’re not taxing it,” he said. “I want to tax it. We’re not controlling it, and we don’t have a statewide gaming commission. I want to do that.

“I also said if you stay in school and stay out of trouble, you get a high school diploma, you’re going to have a scholarship waiting on you on the other side because I am going to lay the lottery back on the table.”

Sparks said that the added revenue that a lottery and gambling tax could bring in would help the state in several areas where funds are needed most.

“The biggest problem that we’ve got today is that people don’t realize the financial situation that Alabama is in,” he said. “There was a stimulus package that came to Alabama. It’s a stimulus package that we’ve been living off of for the past couple of years.

“If it had not been for the stimulus package, we’d have fewer school teachers today than we normally would have; we would have had to lay off school teachers. If it had not been for the stimulus package, we were $700 million in the hole with Medicaid. Alabama’s portion of Medicaid is $1 billion. We could only come up with $300 million. That ought to scare us all to death. If we’ve got anybody that’s of senior citizen age or in a nursing home, that ought to scare us to death.”

Sparks added that only 7 percent of Alabama students got pre-kindergarten classes.

“Spending a dollar on a kid at pre-K is like spending $100 on a kid 12 years old,” he said. “If we don’t invest in our kids in pre-K, we’ll never keep them in school, we’ll never get them excited about school, and we’ll never be where we want to be in education.”

Sparks and U.S. Rep. Artur Davis are the two leading Democratic Party candidates for the 2010 gubernatorial election.