Missouri Lottery Commission calls for more money for schools after drop in education funding

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JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri — Members of the recently revamped Missouri Lottery Commission said Friday they want to make sure the agency is run like a business, efficiently pumping out the maximum funding for education.

The commission meeting came a day after Gov. Jay Nixon replaced four of the five members — though they still need Senate confirmation next year — and released a report questioning the agency's contracts, prizes and advertising expenses.

The lottery finished the 2014 budget year with record sales but transferred less money to education than the previous year. In fact, education funding was consistently above 25 percent of the lottery's total revenues during the past decade, but dropped to 23.1 percent in the 2014 budget.

The new board members said they hope to make changes to ensure the agency is operating effectively to provide the most money to schools, but gave few details about how to make that happen.

"I'm a lifelong educator," said Terry Adams, a Democrat from Lake St. Louis and retired Rockwood School District superintendent. "I come to this committee with the concept that I would like to do anything I can to increase the profitability so that schools will benefit as a result of what we do."

Members picked through a presentation by Missouri Lottery Executive Director May Scheve Reardon, asking how advertising dollars are spent and how that affects the agency's profitability.

Republican Pamela Wright of University City, the only member of the commission whom Nixon did not replace, said maximizing sales is a top priority. She said the commission needs to examine whether the agency is wisely spending the roughly $16 million spent annually on advertising.

Committee members also unanimously selected Republican John Twitty of Springfield as chairman. He spent almost three decades as a municipal utilities manager and serves on the board of trustees at Drury University.

Members delayed voting on the agency's request for an operating budget of more than $59 million and an estimated $160 million for prize money to take time to study the proposal.


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