Missouri Lottery gave less to education in 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 | 6:22 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — Despite record sales, the Missouri Lottery provided less money to education during the recently concluded state budget year, leading Gov. Jay Nixon on Wednesday to order a review of the agency.

The Lottery had sales of nearly $1.16 billion during the 2014 budget year that ended June 30, marking its fifth straight year of growth and the fourth consecutive year that it set a new high for revenues.

Yet the amount of Lottery proceeds transferred to education declined to $267 million this past year from a high of nearly $289 million in 2013, according to figures provided to The Associated Press by the Lottery.

Nixon said he has asked the Office of Administration to conduct a comprehensive review of the Lottery's operations to assess its ability to provide a stable funding source for education.

"We have a responsibility to make sure the lottery keeps its promise to our public schools in an efficient and effective manner," Nixon said in a written statement.

The Lottery was authorized under a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 1984. Eight years later, voters approved an amendment earmarking all proceeds not used for prizes or administrative expenses to go to public K-12 schools and higher education institutions.

The majority of Missouri Lottery revenues are paid out in prizes.

The amount provided to education had consistently been above 25 percent annually during the past decade, topping out at 28.5 percent in the 2006 budget year.

During the recently concluded fiscal year, the Lottery transferred 23.1 percent of its revenues to education.

Lottery officials did not immediately return messages Wednesday inquiring about the reason for the decline. But the Lottery noted that the $267 million transfer to education was still the third-highest annual amount.

The Lottery's funding for education fell well short of the nearly $316 million that had been appropriated by legislators for 2014. It also fell short of the budgeted amount in five of the six previous years.

Nixon's review of the Lottery will be led by Linda Luebbering, director of budget and planning in the Office of Administration.

Luebbering said she plans to look at how much of the Missouri Lottery's proceeds go toward prizes and administration compared with lotteries in other states.

In 2012, Missouri lawmakers considered legislation that would have required the Lottery to transfer 30.5 percent of its revenues to the state, with the proposed increase to benefit early childhood education.

At the time, the Lottery said that each 1 percentage point decline in available prize money could result in a 5 percent reduction in ticket sales.

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