(02/04/2014)
Statehouse Beat   by Phil Kabler for the Charleston Gazette

Just about the same time former governor Bob Wise was decrying the chipping away of funding for the Promise scholarship, as what was envisioned as paying full tuition for the state's brightest students now pays only about three-quarters, the Lottery put out its annual "bucket list" graphic showing how Lottery revenue is disbursed.

(It's called the bucket list, because it depicts the various accounts funded by the Lottery as buckets of money.)

The most telling graphic for the fiscal year 2013 bucket list: the bucket for Promise scholarships contains $29 million -- or about a third of what is appropriated to subsidize thoroughbred and greyhound racing ($87.6 million).

Thoroughbred purses got $50.5 million in subsidies, with another $8.1 million for the thoroughbred development fund, while greyhound purses got $17.8 million, and $5.1 million for greyhound breeders' funds.

Additionally, the Racing Commission got a total of $8.1 million in Lottery revenue to distribute to the racing industries.

Lest we conclude that the state considers subsidizing horse and dog racing at four state racetracks to be three times more important than assuring its brightest students attend state colleges, the Lottery also provides $15 million to pay off higher education construction bonds, and directs $7.9 million to the Higher Education Policy Commission.

Other entities that get less money than the racing interests: Bureau of Senior Services ($42.8 million), which will have to cut services to senior West Virginians in the upcoming budget year, Tourism ($7.4 million), which is having to cut its advertising budget, and State Parks ($5 million), which needs to get a supplemental appropriation approved to make its Feb. 14 payroll.

No action yet on Tomblin administration bills to cut the racing industry subsidies (and most other Lottery statutory accounts) by 15 percent (SB383, HB4266, HB4333).

Statehouse Beat   by Phil Kabler for the Charleston Gazette


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