The Department of Environmental Protection commissioner has promised to discuss with the New Jersey state treasurer an idea for a lottery game to benefit the environment, but he cannot promise that the game will receive approval, according to a letter from the DEP.
Bradley M. Campbell, commissioner for the DEP, stated in a letter Wednesday that he favored the idea of such a lottery but budget issues must be carefully considered.
"Given the current dedication of lottery revenues to support the state's educational programs, including higher educational opportunities for senior citizens, I believe an expanded dedication of a new lottery may negatively impact existing programs supported by these receipts," stated the letter sent to Ed Knorr, chairman of the environmental group Green Action Alliance.
Knorr devised the idea for the "Best Dam Lottery Game," whose proceeds would provide assistance for public and private well testing to seniors and low-income households in the state.
He contacted local and state officials including Sen. Fred Madden, D-4, of Washington Township, who said that the concept was interesting and that he would look into it.
On Friday, Madden said he was disappointed that Campbell did not plan to discuss the game with the state treasurer until consideration of the DEP's 2006 budget.
"Unless we look at new ideas to create revenue, we are going to be beating up on the taxpayers," he said.
According to its Web site, the New Jersey Lottery is one of the most cost-efficient in the country, using only 1 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 to state funding of education and other institutions, including programs benefiting senior citizens.
Since the lottery began in 1970, it has dedicated over $13.1 billion to programs benefiting community colleges, the Department of Human Services, the Governor's School, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, school nutrition and more.
In 2003, higher education services in the state received $396,035 from the lottery alone.
Knorr said he will continue to discuss the issue with local and state officials.
"This issue is not going to die," he said. "I'm going to still pursue it."