The Missouri Lottery says its transfer to public education is $3.4-million greater this year compared to last year, but that would still be off the mark set by the governor and the legislature in the state budget.
The Missouri Lottery projects a transfer of $270.7-million to public education for the fiscal year that ends at the end of this month, but that’s more than $28-million dollars short of the budget projection.
Representative Kurt Bahr (R-St. Charles) chairs the House Budget Committee for K-12 education. He said some districts could have to dip into savings to make up for the difference in how much they expected to get from the state, and what they will get.
“But, because we do have an $80-million dollar increase [for K-12 education in the Fiscal Year 16 budget], we should be able to more than make up for the hurt this year,” said Bahr.
Last year the Missouri Lottery transferred $21-million less to public education than the year before. Governor Jay Nixon (D) replaced each member of the Lottery Commission in September, and the lottery launched an effort to cut expenses in areas including advertising and promotions, equipment, and vendor fees.
Lottery Commission Chairman John Twitty said the lottery also saw gains in some in-state games and through the sales of tickets at new locations such as Kansas City International Airport, at sports stadiums, and at concerts, as well as sales of multi-state game tickets at some gas pumps ATMs.
Twitty said the Commission would like to have met the budget projection.
“I think the important thing is it’s moving back in the right direction, and we’re going to do everything we can, obviously, to hit [the budget projection for lottery revenue] for the year that starts July 1,” Twitty told Missourinet.
He said the lottery is also working with other states in looking for ways to get more people to play some of the multi-state games, such as Powerball.
“People don’t want to win $40- or $50-million anymore. They wait to play until it’s $400-million. The people who operate the lottery both in Missouri and around the country call that ‘jackpot fatigue,'” said Twitty. “We … are looking at ways to freshen those multi-state games, and particularly Powerball, so we hope that maybe through this fiscal year … we’ll begin to see some positive growth back in Powerball and maybe some bigger jackpots, and of course that happens just by chance.”
Bahr said he is considering holding an oversight hearing with the Lottery this fall on how the state spends lottery revenue.
“To one, understand what happened this year and understand what can be done for planning purposes to mitigate this type of a thing in the future,” said Bahr. “Also, should we have all the lottery money in one bucket, move all the lottery money into the foundation formula instead of having it scattered throughout, or would it be better to move all the lottery money out of the foundation formula so that we don’t have to worry about the fluctuation in the foundation formula and move it into other parts of the [budget bills for education]?”
Lottery proceeds represent about 4-percent of the annual funding to public education in Missouri.