Topeka Two business groups announced Wednesday that they had formed a coalition to lobby legislators to reauthorize the Kansas Lottery, which provides millions of dollars in economic development funds each year.
The new group, the Kansas Lottery Extension Coalition, was created by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Kansas Industrial Developers Assn.
The Legislature must decide next year whether to allow the lottery to continue after July 1, 2002.
The lottery generates about $62 million in state revenues each year. Nearly half of that goes toward economic development, which accounts for business leaders' intense interest in renewing the lottery.
Jon Daveline, chairman of the new group, said nearly $500 million of lottery proceeds had gone to economic development projects in the lottery's 13-year history.
"You don't turn economic development and those long-term investments on and off," Daveline said during a news conference at the headquarters of Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc.
Walt George, Hill's vice president of customer service, said lottery money provided about $350,000 to help create more than 60 jobs and provide job training for 250 employees at his company.
Kim Wilcox, executive director of the state Board of Regents, noted that $9.8 million of the lottery money each year went for technical education.
Kansas University received about $2 million this year in economic development funds from the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corp., which is funded by lottery money. The money went to Higuchi Biosciences Center and the Information & Telecommunication Technology Center.
John Fowler, president and chief executive officer of the KCCI, said he didn't think recent negative publicity surrounding the lottery would hurt its chances of renewal.
Debi Moore, KIDA president, agreed.
"You don't throw out a program because there have been some problems with it," said Moore, who is senior vice president for economic development at the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. "The lottery expenditures have worked for Kansas."
Last month, former employee Richard Lee Knowlton was charged with altering dozens of computer records and tickets to create nearly $63,000 worth of bogus lottery prizes for himself. He faces 268 theft, computer crime and official misconduct charges.
Knowlton says he did alter some tickets and cashed them, but only to show lottery officials flaws in their security.
Fowler said a survey sponsored by the KCCI and the KIDA showed that 62 percent of respondents favored renewing the lottery. The survey was taken in late September, shortly after Knowlton was charged.