State views Gov's plan to expand lottery


The Governor's plan is to expand and modernize the lottery and then market it aggressively. Today, there were doubts over whether it could help the state financially.

The problem with Governor Schwarzenegger's lottery plan is it's too optimistic and complicated. That's the word from the non-partisan Legislative Analyst who said the revenue projection was "too rosy" and could ultimately short education.

"Education would not get as much lottery revenue from the proposal as it gets now and they would shorted about $5 billion dollars off of a 12-year period," says CA Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill.

Last week, the Governor unveiled his revised budget proposal, which somewhat relies on borrowing against future lottery sales to help balance the state budget and avoid deep cuts to education. He thinks the state can get $15 billion dollars over three years if it could somehow boost sagging sales.

Senior aides say that's a conservative figure, and schools would at least get the 1.3 billion a year they currently get from the lottery, if not more.

"We believe in ours, we will be able to provide the same amount of money for education that the lottery currently provides," H.D. Palmer of the CA State Finance Department.

The administration is hanging on the fact that the Legislative Analyst didn't completely discount the lottery idea like most lawmakers have on both sides of the aisle.

In fact, the 'budget queen' proposed a less risky lottery plan to help balance the state budget.

"Since the analyst has now talked about integrating the lottery into the budget process, that in and of itself is very significant and a very positive development," says Palmer.

But ask the education community about the lottery proposals and members statewide will give them a thumbs down. The protests will continue because the lottery money is only a small portion of the education budget.

Their share of taxpayer money is still on the chopping block.

"No matter how they keep reshuffling the deck, they come up with the same hand. Ultimately, it's about $4-5 billion in cuts to schools. And what the education community is saying is it's just not appropriate," says Public schools lobbyist Kevin Gordon.

If voters didn't approve the Governor's lottery plan, a temporary one percent sales tax hike would kick in and legislative analysts say it would still not bring in as much money.

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