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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

New budget problem: Lottery revenue declines



Cash-strapped Floridians are even gambling less and that means millions of dollars in lost revenue for public schools.

A new state economic forecast predicts $159-million less in lottery proceeds over the next two years.

That complicates matters for lawmakers who already are grappling with months of unexpectedly lower tax revenue collections. School spending, already expected to drop for the first time in decades, might have to be cut even more.

"Pressure is being placed on the discretionary spending dollar of consumers in the current economic environment with weak disposable income growth and high and increasing gasoline prices,'' the new forecast states. "Additionally, the impact of game enhancements is being reduced due to the fact that multiple changes were introduced at approximately the same time, in the current unfavorable economic environment.''

The new revenue forecast also found that the lottery’s new $30 game that began in January was offset by reduced sales of existing $20 tickets.

"The news just gets better and better, huh?'' said a wry Rep. Ray Sansom, R-Destin, the House budget chairman.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 10:50am]


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