Wednesday, April 04, 2001

Multistate lottery proposal won't fly

Gov. Taft wanted it for school funding

By Spencer Hunt
Enquirer Columbus Bureau

        COLUMBUS — House Speaker Larry Householder said Tuesday his members won't support a plan that would let Ohio offer a multistate lottery like Powerball to help raise money for schools.

        “I think it's pretty well dead in the House,” the Republican leader said of Gov. Bob Taft's proposal, which could raise $70 million over the next two years.

        Caught between a fiscal crisis and an Ohio Supreme Court order to fix school funding, the governor and legislative leaders are looking at budget cuts, the state's $1 billion rainy day fund and at delaying some tax credits to raise needed millions for education.

        The leaders have not reached consensus on a two-year plan that could spend $900 million to $1.4 billion to narrow the gap between poor and rich schools.

        Mr. Householder had supported a $3.2 billion school plan that would have been funded by slot machines at Ohio's seven racetracks. That plan fell apart after the governor threatened a veto.

        The speaker said the opposition to a multistate lottery was not political payback for slot machines.

        Mr. Householder said lawmakers are worried a multistate lottery is more of a threat to increase problem gambling in Ohio.

        “We have a lottery where people are going into convenience stores, grocery stores, anywhere and everywhere in the state of Ohio where they are able to play a numbers game,” he said. “And we're talking about expanding that.”

        Senate President Richard Finan, R-Evendale, said he supports a multistate lottery, though he hasn't discussed it with other senators. “It's a $70 million hole (in the budget) if you don't pass it,” he said.


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