Senate bill tries to increase lottery returns

[private]The Senate’s Republican leaders have introduced legislation (SB 5) that attempts to increase lottery revenues for the HOPE scholarship and pre-K programs by jiggering with the Georgia Lottery’s mathematical formulas.

The bill would require lottery officials to pay a higher percentage of their gross sales to the educational programs and devote a lower percentage to winner payouts and administrative costs.

Georgia law provides that the lottery should devote 35 percent of its gross sales to HOPE, but in recent years that percentage has dwindled to about 25 percent.

Lottery officials say that higher payouts to winners are necessary to maximize ticket sales. The lottery has also been criticized for the high salaries it pays some of its top employees.

SB 5 would bump up the required return to the educational programs to 26 percent of gross sales in fiscal year 2018, 28 percent in fiscal year 2019, and 30 percent in fiscal year 2020. If gross sales decrease by 5 percent or more in a fiscal year, the percent return will be frozen at that level with no further increases.

“Our goal is to make certain that we find that economic sweet spot, where returns are maximized to pre-K and HOPE without significant reductions in overall sales,” Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert said.

“Any adverse changes to the lottery’s sustainability will be detected, and our formulas can be altered, quickly and easily,” by raising the returns incrementally as provided in SB 5, Cowsert said.

The bill’s sponsors include Cowsert and Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer, along with Sens. John Albers, Steve Gooch, Fran Millar, and Linsey Tippins.

© 2017 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Georgia Lottery , HOPE and pre-K returns