Raising The Grade: Betting On Education III

Thursday, October 21st 2004, 10:28 am
By: News On 6

Governor Brad Henry wants you to vote for a lottery. Guaranteeing 35-cents of every dollar you spend on it will go into what's nicknamed a "lock box".

But News on 6 reporter Tamara Pratt investigates if it's all going to that lock box in part 3 of our Raising the Grade series, Betting on Education.

Who can touch it? Some may try, thinking they have the key. Governor Brad Henry: “the legislature can't change that. Only the people can change a constitutional provision. So the people will be the guardian of this trust fund for education."

If anyone tries to dip into it, such as the legislature, a gatekeeper is in place to make the lawmakers give it back.

The fine print is confusing, we read through the bill for days reading and reading and investigating. We found, that the lock box is just that, a constitutional amendment that only a vote of the people can change and it guarantees no less than 35 cents of every dollar will go to education.

Now legislators can play with that education money, but wait and take a look at how. Remember, 35 cents of every dollar from the lottery is guaranteed to go to education. But how those 35 cents is divided up within the education realm, which is what legislators can change.

For example, say higher-ed is getting more revenue from tuition. With this proposed law, legislators have the flexibility in education to change the percentage higher-ed gets, maybe move it to common-ed. But as flexible as this bill seems, any change would still have to pass both the state House and Senate with a majority of the vote and get the Governor's approval.

So we'll watch and see what happens with this Bet On Education. The whole point of the lock box is to make sure the legislature can't under fund education relying on the lottery to make up any shortfall.

Oklahoma's lottery proposal is patterned after other states.