Diehl Wants Statewide Vote on Lottery
by Rachael Herndon
JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri may join 6 other states that do not have a state lottery in 2016. Speaker-elect John Diehl announced today that he will be proposing a constitutional amendment that will allow the voters to repeal all state sponsored lotteries as it is provided for in the constitution.
“We aren’t being honest with Missourians when we make them believe the lottery funds education. It does not,” Diehl said. “Missourians need to revisit the issue and answer some tough questions. Is the lottery an honest way to fund education? Should the state be in the gambling business? Who does the lottery really benefit and who does it hurt?”
Over the past summer, the state lottery has been in the spotlight of criticism for not providing as much revenue as expected. Just last week, Gov. Jay Nixon stated that the lottery needs to do better, and ordered a review of the program to identify why funds were lagging behind projections.
“Two decades ago, Missouri voters spoke loud and clear that the proceeds from the Missouri Lottery should benefit our public schools and it’s clear that the lottery has some work to do if it’s going to keep delivering on that promise,” Nixon said. “This review has identified several areas where the lottery needs to do better, and I look forward to seeing the lottery implement these solid recommendations to improve its operations and maximize its benefit to public education.”
Diehl specifically doted on Nixon’s recent appointments to the lottery commission.
“The governor recently said it’s time to ‘take a fresh look’ at the lottery and appointed five new lottery commissioners,” Diehl said. “This is like shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic. We don’t need to tweak the lottery. We need to look at how people are being misled about the lottery and not addressing the fundamental cost of public education and the government’s role in promoting gambling, often to those who can least afford it. Does anybody believe five new commissioners will put on the table a scenario where the lottery goes away and puts themselves out of a job? We need to stop wallpapering over the tough decisions.”
Repeated studies of state lotteries across the nation have concluded that the system has a lackadaisical impact on school funding. However, some states have had a positive impact from state lotteries, such as North Carolina raising $2.2 billion for education during the last economic recession.
Other states without lotteries include Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Utah, and Nevada. Wyoming started a lottery in the past year.