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Georgia legislature wants lottery to crack down on bonuses

Georgia LotteryGeorgia Lottery: Georgia legislature wants lottery to crack down on bonuses

Lawmakers are moving to increase legislative oversight of the Georgia Lottery Corp. because of anger about the $3 million in employee bonuses the organization handed out last year.

The House Higher Education Committee on Thursday passed a bill giving legislative leaders the authority to appoint two-thirds of the Lottery Corp. board.

Currently, the governor appoints the board, which oversees the corporation and approves its budget.

The legislation, which would require the new board to approve all employee bonuses, also aims to increase General Assembly oversight of the lottery.

The corporation would have to report details of employee bonuses to legislative leaders each year.

Senate leaders are pushing similar legislation.

Sales from lottery tickets pay for HOPE college scholarships and pre-kindergarten programs.

"We want to bring accountability to the spending of the Georgia Lottery Corp. because they have freedom to do things that affect HOPE scholarships," Senate Minority Whip Mitch Seabaugh (R-Sharpsburg) said.

The bills were filed after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on the bonuses, including $236,500 received by Lottery President Margaret DeFrancisco.

The House committee also passed a resolution Thursday urging the lottery to "take a more conservative approach with the distribution of bonuses and incentives."

Lottery officials say the bonuses are necessary to keep employees focused and motivated, and they say other corporations offer similar incentives.

House Higher Education Chairman Bill Hembree (R-Winston) filed several lottery measures because he was outraged by the size of the bonuses given, he said.

"In the future, the bonuses are going to be looked at closely," Hembree said. "The bonus issue is the most important issue we are trying to address here. This is a message to them."

Legislators often file bills to send messages. The bills might not pass, but the message - in this case, to reduce bonuses - is sent.

However, lawmakers expressed similar outrage in 2004 after the Journal-Constitution wrote about lottery bonuses. Still, the amount paid out last year was greater than in 2004.

DeFrancisco's check of $236,500, combined with her $286,000 salary, allowed her to make about four times what Gov. Sonny Perdue earns. However, Perdue could veto anything that wins legislative approval, because he would be giving up the exclusive power to appoint the lottery board.

Over the years, lawmakers have made frequent changes to the HOPE program.

But they generally have left the Lottery Corp., which raises the money, alone.

Since inception of the games in 1993, lottery ticket sales have increased all but one year, and the corporation has transferred more than $9.7 billion into state education programs.

In addition to the bills passed Thursday, Hembree has filed a measure that would mandate that at least 35 percent of lottery ticket sales go to HOPE and pre-kindergarten, up from 27 percent last year. That could mean tens of millions of dollars more for the school programs.

However, lottery officials say the more they pour into prizes, the more tickets they sell, which increases the overall take for education.

When the last fiscal year ended June 30, the state had $879 million in lottery reserves for HOPE and pre-kindergarten.

House Minority Leader DuBose Porter (D-Dublin) sponsored the bill setting up the lottery corporation in the early 1990s for then-Gov. Zell Miller. He said Miller wanted to make sure politicians stayed out of running the lottery.

"We have one of the most successful, if not the most successful, lotteries in the country," Porter said. "We should not interfere with how it operates when it hasn't been shown that anything is wrong."

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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4 comments. Last comment 9 years ago by Littleoldlady.
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chasingadream's avatar - Archangel 01.jpg

United States
Member #38687
May 3, 2006
315 Posts
Offline
Posted: February 8, 2008, 11:40 am - IP Logged

sounds like the governor is a lil jealous

Oogle  waiting patiently for my jackpot

    ThatScaryChick's avatar - x1MqPuM
    Idaho
    United States
    Member #56506
    November 21, 2007
    6537 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: February 8, 2008, 4:25 pm - IP Logged

    DeFrancisco's check of $236,500, combined with her $286,000 salary, allowed her to make about four times what Gov. Sonny Perdue earns. However, Perdue could veto anything that wins legislative approval, because he would be giving up the exclusive power to appoint the lottery board.

    Something doesn't seem right she got a $236,500 bonus. Eek That seems to be an awful lot to get just for working with the lottery.

    "No one remembers the person who almost climbed the mountain, only the person who eventually gets to the top."

      konane's avatar - wallace
      Atlanta, GA
      United States
      Member #1265
      March 13, 2003
      3333 Posts
      Online
      Posted: February 8, 2008, 4:40 pm - IP Logged

      DeFrancisco's check of $236,500, combined with her $286,000 salary, allowed her to make about four times what Gov. Sonny Perdue earns. However, Perdue could veto anything that wins legislative approval, because he would be giving up the exclusive power to appoint the lottery board.

      Something doesn't seem right she got a $236,500 bonus. Eek That seems to be an awful lot to get just for working with the lottery.

      Her salary and bonus together didn't equal the salary ($600K) of our former lottery director, Rebecca Paul Hargrove, who's now heading up Tennessee's lottery. 

      I never saw Paul-Hargrove bonus amount published but it probably deserved the same microscopic examination bonuses are getting now.   Someone please correct me but it seems that Paul Hargrove and her highly paid staff had bonuses totaling in the millions.

      However, since Ms. DeFrancisco's bonus is based upon performance and she did take a lottery which had been run into the ground .... and turned it around into a profitable one, in my opionion she has earned every penny. 

      Good luck to everyone!

        Littleoldlady's avatar - basket
        Clarksville
        United States
        Member #487
        July 15, 2002
        17638 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: February 10, 2008, 7:22 am - IP Logged

        I wonder if it had been a man would they have complained so loud.  If SHE is the top dog, SHE should get the money.  The bonus doesn't seem to be out of line to me...I could see if they gave her 1,000,000.  Rebecca got way more than that.

        If you know your number is going to hit, have patience and then KILL IT!

        You never know when you will get another hit.