Sunset Advisory Commission Hears Testimony from Texas Lottery Commission
The Sunset Advisory Commission is a joint standing committee that evaluates the effectiveness and need of individual state agencies in order to increase efficiency. This committee considers whether a certain agency is necessary, or determines if an agency is fulfilling its purpose adequately. Sometimes, the committee will "sunset" or discontinue an agency if it feels it is unnecessary, or it may merge the agency with another in order to save money. Today, May 18, the Sunset Commission heard testimony from the Texas Lottery Commission regarding its practices and revenues. The Commission also heard testimony from the Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, the Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners, Texas Optometry Board and the Workers Compensation Commission.
Officials from the TLC testified that in 12 years of operation, the Texas lottery has earned 6.2 billion dollars for Foundation Schools, a permanent fund intended to supply funds and back loans made by individual districts. Moreover, the lottery paid out more than 20 billion dollars in prizes and 1.8 billion dollars to retailers, who earn a small percentage of every ticket sold. Senator Jane Nelson of Denton, an opponent of gambling who is against allowing Video Lottery Terminals at Texas horse tracks and Indian casinos, asked TLC officials how VLT's would affect lottery sales. Officials expected a 5 percent shift in revenues if the plan considered in the Senate Finance Committee during the 4th Special Session had passed. Nelson was displeased to learn that TLC funds had been used, at the request of the offices of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, to contract a Las Vegas law firm to draft legislative language that served as the foundation for the House of Representatives plan for Video Lottery Terminals.
According to Co-chair Representative Burt Solomon, members will hear further testimony on Wednesday, and then make any decisions regarding agency closures, mergers, or changes following testimony. The Sunset Advisory Commission is Co-chaired by Representative Burt Solomon and Senator Jane Nelson. Other members are Senators Mike Jackson, John Carona, John Whitmire, Representatives Vicki Truitt, Glenn Lewis, Jim Dunham, Peggy Hamrick, and Public Members John Shields and Howard Wolf.