Isn't Lottery Money Supposed to Be for Public Schools?

Lansing political newsletter MIRS News (subscription required) reports that some legislators are steamed about a decision by state Lottery Commissioner Scott Bowen to burn $40,000 in lottery proceeds that otherwise would be available to fund public schools by giving it to the city of Grand Rapids for a fireworks display.

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Bowen is former Grand Rapids City Council member appointed to his present position by Gov. Granholm in January 2008. Under current law the Lottery Commissioner is a political appointee who serves “at the pleasure of the governor,” meaning that he'll probably be looking for work starting next January.

Scott Bowen's official relationship with Gov. Granholm began in 2003 when she appointed him to fill a vacant judgeship. He left that gig to seek the Democratic nomination for Attorney General in 2006, and when that didn't work out got another government job from the governor as director of the State Employer office. There, he angered Republicans and made friends with government employee unions with a controversial ruling allowing state employee payroll deductions to be automatically withdrawn and deposited into union PACs.

Bowen also has been mentioned as a potential candidate for the state Senate and for Congress. Overall, his record appears to be that of a political careerist perennially on the lookout for a new elected or appointed office.

Maybe the Fourth of July star shells purchased with lottery funds will spell out some of the Algebra I lessons high school students are supposed to learn these days.

Since the lottery's inception, state legislators have heard complaints that they "stole the lottery money." The accusation isn't true, but actions like this one simply fuel the fire.