CALIFORNIA LOTTERY: THE OTHER SIDE

Here’s a rebuttal to my column of April 28, in which I went off on the California Lottery for not making good on its old promise (made in 1984 when we approved Prop. 37) to make our school system rich. You can read the column at www.sbsun.com/johnweeks.

The reply comes from Bill Ainsworth, deputy director of corporate communications for the California Lottery. He writes:

Hi, John.

There were so many misleading and wrong assertions in your column that it is hard to know where to begin.

First of all the Lottery was never supposed to pay for buildings. It was always supposed to provide “supplemental funds” to our schools. Every quarter Lottery funds go to all public schools and colleges across the state. We have a report on our website that details where the money goes http://www.calottery.com/support/lotteryfunds/.

For each of the past nine years, Lottery players have contributed more than $1 billion to public schools and colleges. Lottery employees take our mission of providing tax-free supplemental funds to the schools seriously. That is why we have slashed administrative costs. The Lottery Act allows us to spend 16 percent of sales on administrative funds. Currently we spend about 13.5 percent and new legislation that we supported will require us to slash our expenses to 13 percent next year.

That new law, which will also give us flexibility in deciding how much we pay out in prizes, is going to allow us to contribute even more to education during the next fiscal year. This fiscal year we are already increasing our contribution to education by $15 million.

Currently, Lottery funds only amount to about 1.3 percent of the state’s school budget, but at a time when schools are getting cut from every other source, that money is especially important. If we shut down the Lottery, as you suggested, the schools’ budget problems would be considerably worse than they are now.

Sincerely,

Bill Ainsworth, deputy director corporate communications

California Lottery