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Gov. Pataki's recent remarks urging state lawmakers to approve legislation legalizing casino gambling will reheat debate on this issue.

Implicit in the rationale favoring state-run gaming is the necessity to provide an added revenue source for government functions. On the other side, however, is the much-needed argument never articulated -- that the last thing government needs is more money.

Pouring more dollars into publicly sponsored programs and "solutions" is akin to extinguishing a fire with gasoline. Legitimate government needs to work with standards of fiscal accountability and measures that promote privatization where feasible. Making more money available solves nothing. It merely undermines efforts for balanced budgets -- via tax and regulatory reduction.

By advocating casino gambling, the governor is retreating from the popular mandate of spending reform that elected him to office.

Martin E. Mutka