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Wisconsin lawmakers vote down plan to privatize state Lottery

Apr 21, 2005, 1:18 pm

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Wisconsin Lottery

Wisconsin lawmakers on Wednesday voted down a proposal in Gov. Jim Doyle's budget bill to privatize half of the work at the Wisconsin lottery.

The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee voted 10-6 to delete a provision that would have eliminated 55 of 109 positions at the lottery.

Doyle's plan called for the private sector to take over the lottery's sales and marketing, ticket warehousing and distribution, product development, special events, and Web site operations, while state employees would still be in charge of prize payouts, contract management and other oversight functions.

Doyle said the tasks he wanted to privatize were not core government functions and could be handled more efficiently by private companies, generating more property tax relief for Wisconsin residents. Lottery proceeds saved property taxpayers an average of $93 on their 2004 tax bills.

Lawmakers noted that the Department of Revenue, which oversees the lottery, had not asked for the changes and had not developed plans on how to implement them.

The vote came as the Joint Finance Committee continued its work on Doyle's budget before sending it to the full Legislature.

The state faces a $1.6 billion deficit for the two-year budget period through June 30, 2007. That shortfall must be made up through spending cuts, tax increases or both.

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