Governor signs funding bill for Lottery Commission - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

Governor signs funding bill for Lottery Commission

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A $500,000 spending bill to help jump-start Oklahoma's lottery commission was signed into law by Gov. Brad Henry Friday.

The money, which must be returned to the state once the statewide lottery cranks up, will give the commission the flexibility it needs to establish a framework for the lottery, including hiring an executive director and finding temporary office space, commissioners said.

``It would be great to have a telephone number,'' said commission Chairman James Orbison of Tulsa.

The money will also give the commission more time to obtain startup financing for the lottery. State law authorizes the commission to issue bonds or establish a line of credit of up to $10 million.

``Things are so preliminary that at the present time we don't know how much money we're going to need,'' Commissioner William Paul of Oklahoma City said. ``We're going to have to have a plan in place quickly on where we're going to get money.''

He said Henry may seek an additional $500,000 loan to the lottery for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Henry said the lottery ``will provide significant new resources'' for public education. The lottery, authorized by voters in November, is expected to raise $150 million a year for education.

``I want the education lottery to start producing revenues for schools as soon as possible, and I know Oklahomans are anxious to see it up and running as well,'' the governor said.

Administration officials hope to have the lottery operating by October. About $62 million in lottery revenue is included in the proposed budget for fiscal year 2006.

Orbison said a committee headed by former Oklahoma City Mayor Ron Norick, also a commission member, is reviewing as many as 15 applications from lottery professionals from across the nation interested in becoming the Oklahoma lottery's executive director.

The state advertised for an executive director in trade magazines last month.

``We are really moving along quickly,'' Orbison said. He said the commission wants to hire someone soon to begin recruiting lottery retailers and vendors.

``There's so many things we can't move on until that person is in place,'' Paul said

Lottery officials have said the executive director's compensation will be commensurate with experience.

Henry also signed five supplemental spending bills for the fiscal year than ends June 30 to agencies that required additional revenue to pay for operations through the end of the year.

The measures appropriated $1.5 million to vocational-technical schools; $1 million to the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System; $18 million for state prisons; $4 million to state regents for a student scholarship program; and $500,000 to the state Tax Commission.
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