State Lottery Question

Thursday, October 14th 2004, 3:19 pm
By: News On 6

Supporters say a state lottery would grow millions of dollars just for education without raising your taxes. Opponents argue it might dry up other revenue schools would still need even with a lottery. The fate of that lottery rests with voters.

Whether it’s 50 million or 100 million or 150 million or 300 million, it’s all new money for education. New money from a proposed state lottery that, according to Governor Henry, will provide an immediate cash flow for Oklahoma School Districts.

"As soon as we sell tickets, we’ll start generating revenue for education, for our schools."

That will be 6 months to a year after the November 2nd election, if the lottery passes. Two big pros the governor lists as a reason to vote yes. He also points out jobs and opportunities created by the lottery as another plus as well as keeping Oklahoma dollars home.

“At one time, the outlet that sold the most lottery tickets in Missouri was on the Oklahoma border.”

But there is concern an education lottery may erode support for school bonds at the school district level. We turned to Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Bob Moore. He wouldn't say if he was pro lottery, he's pro revenue for the schools saying the lottery would be positive money maker for school. He does have experience with Educational lotteries in Texas. So we asked him about his concerns.

“The revenue that’s projected from the lotto is really a drop in the bucket compared to what’s needed in schools across Oklahoma.”

Moore points out if the lottery passes, his work, as a "fund-raiser" to generate revenue through school bonds is not over.

"Remember only 35 cents of each lottery dollar will go toward education."

“Lottery money provided additional revenue for things that we were not able to do. But we still had the same requirements for bonds for facilities.”

Revenue that could change from year to year a concern he had in Texas.

“Because how do you budget with a floating target so to speak.”

Governor Henry says lottery dollars will be a solid revenue source for Oklahoma's classrooms.

“It’s very likely that lottery funding could go up and down some. But the states that we have based our lottery provisions on have seen a gradual incline in lottery revenues every year.”

And he promises there will not be a decline in educational money from the General Revenue. The governor says it's secured in a lockbox.

“So we know absolutely with constitutional certainty, that the lottery proceeds will be new money for education.”