Ed Knorr was standing in line at a convenience store recently, waiting to buy a New Jersey lottery ticket.
As he stood there, an idea struck him. What if funds from a state lottery game benefited the environment, aiding specific funding issues for various environmental causes?
Knorr, chairman of the Williamstown-based Green Action Alliance, decided to pursue that idea. He devised the "Best Dam Lottery Game," a lottery whose proceeds would provide assistance for private well testing to seniors and low income households in the state.
And he contacted state Sen. Fred Madden, D-Washington Township, to discuss the idea and its potential for state legislation.
Madden said the matter would need careful consideration, including the feasibility of such a lottery and the details of who and what it would benefit. But, he said, the idea sounded promising.
"It was an interesting concept," said Madden.
In the next few weeks, his office will look into the procedure for implementing a new lottery game and whether it could benefit the environment
According to its Web site, the New Jersey Lottery is one of the most cost-efficient in the country, using only one percent of its revenues to operate and promote the business. In 2003, the lottery produced nearly $2.07 billion in sales. Of that amount, $22 million was used for operating expenditures, allowing the lottery to contribute over $765 million toward state funding of educational and other institutions, including programs benefiting senior citizens.
Since the lottery was established by statewide voter referendum in Nov. 1969, it has dedicated more than $13.1 billion to programs benefiting community colleges, the Department of Human Services, the Governor's School Program, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, school nutrition and more. It maintains its status as the fourth largest sources of revenue for the state of New Jersey -- after income, sales, and corporate taxes.
In 2003, higher education services in the state received $396,035 from the lottery alone.
Knorr said the environment -- especially in the state of New Jersey -- could benefit from those funds, too.
"There's no other lottery that benefits the environment," he said. "I think it would catch on really well."