Our Opinion: Projections set up Lottery as scapegoat
Thursday, July 19, 2012
The Missouri Lottery has been placed in the unenviable position of scapegoat.
To project a balanced state budget, elected officials engaged in a bipartisan set up and budget shell game.
The budget — approved by a Republican-dominated Legislature and signed by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon — saddles the Lottery with rosy revenue projections.
And those projected additional revenues will be appropriated through a convoluted process that also involves redirecting tobacco settlement money and casino fees to programs for early childhood education, veterans homes and others.
If the Lottery fails to generate the anticipated additional $35 million, however, the diffusion of funding to other program beneficiaries — including children and veterans — suffers.
And fingers of blame will be pointed directly at the Lottery.
Lottery officials acknowledge they will attempt to meet the higher projections, but confess they have not developed a strategy to do so.
Among their options are: new Powerball and Mega Millions promotions; a planned new Scratchers game with a percentage increase in prizes; new vending machines that can sell more games; and a renewed emphasis urging retailers to increase promotion.
We never have been proponents of state-sanctioned gambling, but we do support adequate funding for education and other programs in the funding chain.
If the state is to finance essential government services by operating games of chance, it at least should be fair to its own operations. And if elected officials impose inflated projections, we ask that they at least refrain from finger pointing if those revenues fail to materialize.