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In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Lottery Money

    Out on the rubber chicken circuit, you can set your watch by it.  Somewhere in the question and answer segment, you will eventually get, "Where does the lottery money go?" and "What do you think about term limits?"
          In today's installment, we tackle item number one. Term limits gets the once over tomorrow.
          This lottery thing is a fascinating story that dates all the way back to 1972 when it as first proposed. It also turns out to be a case study in how the public doesn't pay close attention.
         During the lottery debate and before it went to the citizens for approval, there was all sorts of chatter about where the profits should go.  Everything under the sun was considered including using it to fund our schools.  That earmarking however was never included in the ballot proposal, but the mere fact that it was even discussed somehow got locked into the collective mind of the entire state.
          The people said yes to the lottery. The money started flowing into the state's General Fund which is similar to your family checking account. But the public perception was imbedded:  The lottery would fund our schools and no other dollars would be needed.
         Of course, that was never the case and besides, the lottery, while successful, could not generate the billions of dollars needed to teach Johnny and Janey.  Yet the perception lives on.
         Lawmakers kept running into, "What happened to the lottery money?"
         Finally, after years of this, they changed the lottery law to send all of the profits into education. There still wasn't enough to cover all the costs, and it did not end the incessant questions about where the money went.
         So, hear ye, hear ye:  The lottery money goes to education. But we still need more dollars for schools. Now stop asking, please?



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