A state legislator from Milwaukie, Carolyn Tomei, has introduced a package of bills designed to address some of the problems associated with the Oregon Lottery.

Perhaps the most important of the three bills is HB 2167, which would cap the total amount of lottery revenue going to the state’s general fund. Under her proposal, all money above the cap would be diverted into a so-called “rainy day” fund, used only during times of fiscal crisis.

This would begin to address a central problem with the lottery, which is the mixed incentives it creates for legislators. On one hand, most of them pretend to be concerned about the growing problem of gambling addiction. Yet, when they use lottery money to pay for base funding of important state programs, they are incentivized to promote gambling.

When priorities collide, the lottery as cash cow always trumps concerns about gambling addiction.

The best solution would be to get state government out of the gambling business entirely; but since that’s not politically feasible, cutting off some of the revenue to the state’s general fund is a good first step. If the cap is set low enough, it potentially could force legislators to look elsewhere for base funding, or maybe even cut spending. Either option would be better than the status quo.

John A. Charles, Jr. is President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

 

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

 

Other Publications by John

The Demise of the Highway Trust Fund: A Market Solution

John Charles | August 12, 2014
  In the 1967 film The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman plays a nerdy twenty-something who suffers through an unwanted college graduation party hosted by his parents. ...  read more

Time for a Third Bridge to Vancouver

John Charles | July 30, 2014
Last week a conceptual plan for a new bridge over the Columbia River was unveiled at a public forum in Vancouver, WA. The plan, presented ...  read more

Are You Being Scammed on Your Electric Bill?

John Charles | June 13, 2014
During the past decade, it has become popular for individuals, businesses, and universities to brand themselves as “green power” supporters. Some have done this by ...  read more

More On These Topics

Don’t Pay Twice for Public Education

Steve Buckstein | August 27, 2014
Last week, the American College Testing organization (ACT) released the results of its national college admissions examination consisting of tests in English, Reading, Math, and ...  read more

Charter Schools Achieve Superior Outcomes with Unequal Funding

Kathryn Hickok | August 20, 2014
The University of Arkansas has published a first-ever comparison study of cost effectiveness and return on investment between different types of public schools. The Productivity ...  read more

Join a Union or Pay? Not So Fast, Say Oregonians

Kathryn Hickok | August 13, 2014
A public opinion poll released this week reveals that 84% of Oregonians agree that employees should have the right to decide, without force or penalty, ...  read more