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Bill would boost California Lottery jackpots

February 23, 2010 | 12:56 pm

The state Lottery would be allowed to pay out more money on jackpots, with the aim of gaining more players and boosting funding for schools, under a measure that advanced Tuesday, but Los Angeles’ teachers are skeptical.

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi (D-Castro Valley) said her legislation would ultimately mean more money for education, but the United Teachers of Los Angeles objected during a committee hearing that it would allow funds to be shifted from education to prizes.

Voters approved the lottery in 1984 with a requirement that at least 84% of the money go back to the public, at least half in prizes and 34% to schools. Hayashi’s proposal would increase the amount going back to the public to 87%, which would allow more revenue to be put into bigger jackpots, but would leave it to the Lottery Commission to decide how much goes to education.

Based on experiences in other states,  lottery industry officials estimated that bigger prizes would draw more players, boosting money for schools from the current $1 billion to $1.4 billion each year.

The Senate Governmental Organization Committee was impressed and unanimously approved AB 142, despite protests by the UTLA.

"The percentage for education will now be determined by a commission, and all that does is cause us to be involved in a political situation where education may not get what it received before,’’ said Harold L. Boyd Jr., a UTLA lobbyist. 

Ross Warren, a consultant to Hayashi, said the bill requires the state to revert back to the old formulas  if the change does not produce at least the same amount that schools are now getting.

--Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

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