Friday, April 23, 2004

Betting on the Future

Tennessee's lottery joined the Powerball franchise this week, to less than stellar opening numbers. That's been about the only bad news so far. The lottery has been running ahead of schedule, put millions more into the HOPE fund than expected, and made $700,000 in bonuses for the folks who run it. We should all be happy, right?

Maybe not. This USAToday editorial looks at how lotteries have worked out for other States and the news isn't good for our future.
But even as they enacted lotteries for education during the 1970s and '80s, states continued to cry out for additional educational funding. This was puzzling, given the supposed infusion of lottery monies. To clarify why, political science professor Patrick Pierce and I reviewed education spending from all states for the 25 years from 1965 to 1990. During this time, 12 states enacted lotteries for education. We found that states generally increase annual education spending about $12 per capita before a lottery is adopted. In the first year after beginning a lottery, states increased their education spending by almost $50 per capita.

Sounds great, doesn't it?

But after the first-year surge in spending, the annual rate of change in educational spending in a state with a lottery dropped sharply. Rather than increase education spending by $12 per resident every year, these states' spending went up only $6 per capita. In a few years, the initial flush of lottery funds into a state's education programs had been eaten up, and the state lagged those that didn't rely on lottery-generated education funds.
It's something we need to keep our eyes on.

While we're talking lottery, let me remind readers of this link to Rev. Don Sensing's writings on gambling and lotteries.

And...while you're at One Hand Clapping, scroll up and read his take on folks like me who worry that a military draft may be coming. He's served in the military and brings a lot of good, hard experience and knowledge to the issue. His take? Not likely until we've tried legislating an expanded volunteer army first. That's good to hear.

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