Topeka Gov. Joan Finney's plan to institute video lottery games in the state to help pay for her school finance and property tax reform proposals is causing some traditional lottery supporters to have second thoughts, a Lawrence legislator says.
Rep. Betty Jo Charlton, D-Lawrence, said several traditional lottery supporters asked pointed questions Wednesday in the House Federal and State Affairs Committee about how much of a video lottery proposal is guesswork and how much is fact.
"They were questioning where do we get that $50 million projection," Charlton said. "It took me a minute to catch on what was going on. Because of the governor's proposal to use this for property tax relief, they're starting to question it already."
Questions that came up during an overview by Ralph Decker, lottery director, touched on exactly how Decker made his projections and how inflated they might be.
"They were saying, hey, if we're really going to count on this for something, I wonder if it's really going to be there," Charlton said. "You didn't really hear that in the past."
Video lotteries, which are similar to slot machines, would boost lottery income to the state by $50 million in the first full year of operations, Decker said. He told the committee that projection was based on lottery figures from other states.
The governor hopes to use $30 million of that next fiscal year to fund her school finance and property tax relief program. Under that scenario, video lotteries would become operational in November.
Currently, 90 percent of lottery funds are dedicated to economic development. Ten percent goes to prisons. Many legislators have said they oppose using gambling revenue, which can be erratic, to support public education. They said they would favor a more reliable source of funding such as a sales or income tax.