If Louisiana voters ratify Amendment 9 on the Oct. 4 ballot, they will impose a dedication they thought already was done, according to state Rep. Rick Farrar.
The proposed change to the state Constitution would dedicate all but $500,000 of the annual revenues from the state lottery to public education. The $500,000 set aside would be used for treating problem and compulsive gamblers.
Farrar, D-Pineville, said he authored the amendment in response to voters' questions about how about $100 million in annual lottery proceeds are spent.
"I hear it everywhere I go, 'What happened to the lottery money?' The perception is that when the lottery was passed, it was sold as being dedicated to education."
But the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, in its guide to the 15 proposed constitutional amendments, says the amendment adopted in 1990 to authorize the lottery did not dedicate the revenue. "Therefore, proponents say this amendment corrects that error and ensures that the Legislature cannot use this funding for any other purpose."
However, PAR notes, the administration has made it a practice to use the money from the lottery for education even without the dedication. Ratifying Amendment 9 would not change anything and would not result in any increase in spending for education, PAR says.
"That doesn't cure the fact that it was sold to the public as being dedicated," Farrar said, noting that he personally opposes dedicating state revenues to specific purposes.
"If the public in 2003 doesn't want to dedicate (lottery proceeds), so be it. I just want to see the public get a chance to vote on it."