By Toni Webb
August 26, 2013
Securing Our Safety, a grassroots nonprofit in Josephine County, has launched an effort to bring more local control of the Lottery profits to each Oregon County. The proposed Oregon constitutional amendment, planned to be on the November 2014 ballot, would divide State lottery profits in half. Fifty percent of the money would still be under the State legislature’s control, but the other half—about $265 million—would be divided among Oregon’s 36 counties. “Instead of the state deciding what is the greatest local need for these dollars, we are returning the control to the Counties,” said Jay Meredith, president of Securing Our Safety and chief financial officer of the City of Grants Pass.
Securing Our Safety partnered with Salem attorney and ballot initiative expert Kevin Mannix to research the idea of redistributing lottery dollars after they realized that Josephine County loses 50% of every dollar it contributes to the Lottery. For Josephine County, this is about $5 million per year.
Mannix crafted the initial language for the initiative, and members of the Securing Our Safety group have helped the Lottery Local Control Committee gather the necessary 1,000 validated signatures to secure a ballot title. The group’s goal is to collect 1,500 signatures to ensure proper validation and deliver the petitions to the Oregon Attorney General during the last week in August. Once the Attorney General decides on the language for the ballot title, the Committee will need to gather an additional 116,000 signatures statewide to put the initiative on the November 2014 ballot.
Passage of this citizen-based initiative would mean about $5 million per year for Josephine County. Many counties that are struggling to diversify, create economic development, fund schools, and ensure public safety would benefit from the passage of the Lottery Local Control Act. This Act provides greater flexibility to address the individual needs in counties across Oregon and is a win for all counties in Oregon by restoring more local control and distributing the Lottery's profits fairly. The dollars coming back to each County would be more closely-based on dollars paid in by each County.
new formula would be:
50% of the net Lottery profits would be under the control of the Legislature as already determined (18% to schools, 15% to Parks and Natural Resources, 17% at the discretion of the Legislature).
back to the Counties using this formula:
10% divided evenly among all 36 Counties (approximately $737,000 per year to each County)
90% distributed based on percentage of lottery sales in each County
County by County impact if the new formula would have determined the 2012-2013 Lottery Funds Distribution:
Hood River: $2,186,170
The needs and priorities vary in each County, and this Act lets each County choose how to spend their piece of the Lottery pie. The Oregon Lottery distributed $530.5 million in profits during Fiscal Year 2013, which is similar to the amount distributed in the previous year. Local government and local schools know best what the highest priorities are for the available funding. Local Control is a win for all Oregon Counties!
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Counties can use the revenue to help fund: public education, economic development, providing for public safety, restoring native fish and wildlife, or protecting parks and beaches. Every Oregon County will benefit from more local control.
The Lottery Local Control Act gives more local control of monies that are generated locally. If we want to expand new businesses locally-We Can! Hire more teachers-We Can! Improve parks and recreation areas-We Can! Fund public safety and criminal justice systems-We Can! Renovate an aging school-We Can! Restore Watersheds-We Can! Create jobs-We Can!
If you want more information, to help, or donate: Join the Oregon Lottery Local Control Act email list by sending an email to: [email protected]
© 2013 Toni Webb - All Rights Reserve
Toni Webb is a native of Grants Pass, OR. She has an internet marketing business. After studying international relations at the International Peoples College in Denmark, she returned to Oregon to get her BA at Marylhurst University. She then went on to get her MBA and a Masters equilvalent in Healthcare Management. She has founded three nonprofits and served on the Boards of five nonprofits.
Toni is currently on the Board of the City of Grants Pass Historic Buildings and Sites Commission and the Josephine County Spay and Neuter Fund. She ran for County Commissioner in 2012, with a good showing coming in second in the General Election.
E-Mail: [email protected]