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Gov. Wise takes a big gamble

Gov. Bob Wise has taken a big gamble -- $22 million worth.

In his State of the State Address Wednesday, the new governor presented a budget that would give pay raises to state workers and school teachers.

But those raises are based on the Legislature going along with his plan to legalize, regulate and tax video poker machines, or gray machines. The revenues would also be used to fund his PROMISE Scholarship program, which would provide tuition money for qualifying state students.

Regulating the gray machines is the centerpiece of Wise's agenda, and it will be the most difficult legislation to get passed.

There will be many lawmakers who will have to be persuaded to go along. Wise will have to do a lot of talking to convince them that regulating gray machines will not be an expansion of gambling in the state.

A fairly sizable portion of his $2.7 billion budget depends on his political skills.

Thankfully, the governor is not depending solely on gray machines to lift the state out of its economic doldrums.

He proposed a Jobs Swat Team to intervene and help a struggling business avoid layoffs or closing.

He also proposed a Sunny Day Fund to help clinch the deal with businesses that want to expand or locate here.

The governor made a good speech Wednesday evening and, by presenting the legislation for his agenda on the same night as his State of the State, he showed he's willing to roll up his sleeves and get to work.

We hope the Legislature follows his lead.

"It's time to quit talking and take action," he told them. Good advice.

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