A Georgia lottery that could fall short of funding two nationally acclaimed education programs in as little as three years now must operate without the woman who guided it for 10 years. Rebecca Paul said Monday she is leaving to run the Tennessee games.
Shes the best lottery director in the world and she will be greatly missed in Georgia, said Sen. Zell Miller, who led the push to establish the lottery when he was governor, and was instrumental in luring Paul from Florida to start Georgias games in 1993.
Former Gov. Roy Barnes said he did everything he could to make sure Paul stayed in Georgia when he succeeded Miller as governor. Now, he worries she will be a tough competitor.
Im very high on Rebecca and certainly hate to see her leave. I dont think theres any question she would be a troublesome competitor, even if she did not know the ins and outs of Georgias lottery.
The lottery funds two highly regarded programs. One is the HOPE scholarship program, which pays for college tuition, fees and books for students who earn and keep a B average. It also covers tuition, fees and books at technical colleges for Georgia residents regardless of grade point average.
The second program is voluntary pre-kindergarten for four-year-olds.
Both programs have grown enormously, prompting fears they will dventually outstrip the ability of the games to finance them.
A legislative committee, looking into the issue, was told this summer that the lottery could fall $39 million short of funding the two programs as early as 2006 with a $221 million deficit in 2007.
The reserves total just $203 million.
The panel is considering ways to trim costs to avoid the projected shortfall.
Barnes, who lost his re-election bid to Republican Sonny Perdue in November, said the future success of Georgias lottery depends on who takes her place. I dont think theres any question about the fact that shes going to be missed.
The Georgia lottery board met Monday to decide on a search strategy.
Paul earned $500,000 from her Georgia position in the fiscal year that ended June 30, according to J.B. Landroche, the Georgia Lottery Corp.s communications director. That included a base salary of $290,000 and an incentive, based on ticket sales, of $210,000.
In Tennessee, her base salary will be $350,000, but she can earn incentives that could raise her annual salary to $752,500.