Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry presided over the first meeting of the Oklahoma Education Lottery Commission on Wednesday, urging members to move quickly in hopes of getting the lottery up and running this fall.
"This will be the only time that I will preside over the Oklahoma Education Lottery Commission. I'm kind of excited about it," Henry said before the seven members of the panel were sworn in by Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice Joe Watt.
The governor, who led the fight for approval of the lottery at the November election, said it was important that the seven commissioners move with haste in setting up the lottery so money could start rolling in for education.
But the most important thing, Henry added, is "to make sure it is done right" even if it takes a little longer to get the lottery under way.
Jim Orbison, Tulsa attorney, was elected chairman of the commission and Ron Norick, former Oklahoma City mayor, was chosen vice chairman.
Orbison said he would choose a three-member selection committee to begin looking for an executive director. He said another meeting of the full commission would be held in about two weeks.
Orbison called it an "awesome" responsibility, but one he is looking forward to fulfilling.
"The people have placed a lot of confidence in this venture and it's up to us to make it the best in the country," said Commissioner William Paul of Oklahoma City, former president of the American Bar Association.
Commissioners picked Thomas Riley, Stillwater businessman and certified public accountant, as treasurer. Linda Dzialo of Lawton, retired educator, was selected as secretary of the commission.
Other commissioners sworn in were Cindy Ball of Muskogee, 2004 teacher of the year, and George Charlton Jr., Tulsa businessman.
Henry hopes that scratch-off games lottery games will begin in October, with electronic games in operation six months after that and Powerball-type games beginning in the fall of 2006.
The lottery is expected to produce $150 million for education after it is in full operation.
The Office of State Finance, as well as the governor's office, is assisting the commission in getting off the ground.
Scott Meacham, state finance director, said a $500,000 supplemental appropriation is being sought to pay commission bills for the fiscal year that ends June 30 and another $500,000 in startup funds has been requested the fiscal year that starts July 1.
Meacham said the commission has other ways to get funds until lottery proceeds begin coming in, including having a $10 million line of credit.