Lottery Could Fund More Than State Education

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The Texas lottery was approved to help finance the public school system, but it could finance something else. On Tuesday, during the State of the State address, Governor Rick Perry proposed selling the state lottery to create an endowment for uninsured Texans and a cancer research trust fund.

"Conservative estimates tell us that the state lottery could be sold to the private sector for at least 14 billion dollars," Perry said.

The governor's proposal would use 5.7 billions dollars of that estimated 14 billion dollars to finance both projects. Jim Burdine of Texas A&M Health Science Center said the governor's proposal could be a good idea for the state.

As the director of the Center for Community Health Development at the School of Rural Public Health, Burdine said the state's statistic is evidence that something needs to be done.

"About six million Texans are uninsured, that is about 25 percent of the state, which is much higher that the national average of 16 percent," Burdine said.

Governor Perry said the sell of the state lottery would provide 2.7 billion dollars for uninsured Texans and three billion dollars for cancer research. And the money left over could be used to fund Texas public schools.

"More than eight billion dollars could be dedicated to a public education endowment that would provide almost 800 million dollars a year for public education," Perry said.

The Texas governor said if the state delays action on this proposal the market price for the lottery could be less in the coming years, considering Indiana and Illinois are also discussing selling their state lotteries.

He said more states could follow. Jim Burdine agrees with the governor, in that he hopes the idea is seriously evaluated.

"These are all trends in the right direction and it is exciting to think that the governor is putting access to healthcare and health insurance and dollars into medical education and research as a priority," Burdine said.

But there are still some questions about the proposal legislators need answers to