Georgia's lottery revamp

Georgia's lottery revamp

February 27th, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

For a variety of reasons, it's unwise to fund government operations with lotteries. For one thing, too many people can come to think of lottery revenue as "free money." It's not free. It has enormous social costs, particularly because so many of the people who play are the ones who can least afford to do so. Their families may suffer as a result.

But Tennessee, Georgia and many other states nevertheless fund some educational endeavors with lottery proceeds, and if they are going to do that, the money should be spent wisely.

In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal has proposed revamping the lottery-funded HOPE scholarship and pre-kindergarten programs -- before they go broke. Lottery revenue isn't keeping up as enrollment rises.

Among other things, the governor wants lawmakers to reduce the size of HOPE awards, trim bonuses for lottery workers and cut down on how much stores get for selling tickets. Meanwhile, the hours that a pre-kindergarten program is offered would be reduced from six and a half to four.

Deal surely doesn't relish those cuts, but we commend him for taking a realistic approach to Georgia's finances.