CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Just about the same time former governor Bob Wise was decrying the chipping away of funding for the Promise scholarship, as what was envisioned as paying full tuition for the state's brightest students now pays only about three-quarters, the Lottery put out its annual "bucket list" graphic showing how Lottery revenue is disbursed.
(It's called the bucket list, because it depicts the various accounts funded by the Lottery as buckets of money.)
The most telling graphic for the fiscal year 2013 bucket list: the bucket for Promise scholarships contains $29 million -- or about a third of what is appropriated to subsidize thoroughbred and greyhound racing ($87.6 million).
Thoroughbred purses got $50.5 million in subsidies, with another $8.1 million for the thoroughbred development fund, while greyhound purses got $17.8 million, and $5.1 million for greyhound breeders' funds.
Additionally, the Racing Commission got a total of $8.1 million in Lottery revenue to distribute to the racing industries.
Lest we conclude that the state considers subsidizing horse and dog racing at four state racetracks to be three times more important than assuring its brightest students attend state colleges, the Lottery also provides $15 million to pay off higher education construction bonds, and directs $7.9 million to the Higher Education Policy Commission.
Other entities that get less money than the racing interests: Bureau of Senior Services ($42.8 million), which will have to cut services to senior West Virginians in the upcoming budget year, Tourism ($7.4 million), which is having to cut its advertising budget, and State Parks ($5 million), which needs to get a supplemental appropriation approved to make its Feb. 14 payroll.
No action yet on Tomblin administration bills to cut the racing industry subsidies (and most other Lottery statutory accounts) by 15 percent (SB383, HB4266, HB4333).
Speaking of State Parks, an interesting report last week showed only one facility turned a profit during 2011 and 2012, and that was Chief Logan State Park, home to a relatively new $11.5 million lodge and conference center.
During the period, it operated at an 8 percent profit of $164,632. (By contrast, Pipestem State Park had operating losses of $2.1 million during the same period.)
However, Division of Natural Resources Director Frank Jezioro told legislators 2013 was a "very rough year" for Chief Logan, which saw a $300,000 to $400,000 drop in revenue, as a downturn in the coal industry meant fewer conferences and meetings at the lodge and conference center.
Look-ahead for the coming week: There are several Democratic members of the House of Delegates who say they were approached by the GOP's Kris Warner about switching party affiliations prior to filing for re-election.
Apparently, they were told that if they switched to the GOP, they would be assured they would have no primary opposition, and would get support from the state party in the general election.