A top state senator has pre-filed a bill that would force lottery officials to get legislative approval before they hand out bonuses to staffers.
The bill from Senate Majority Whip Mitch Seabaugh (R-Sharpsburg) would dissolve the current Georgia Lottery Corp. board and create a new one appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House of Representatives. Currently the governor alone appoints the board.
The measure would also force the lottery president to get the board’s and a legislative panel’s approval before giving out bonuses.
Seabaugh prefiled the bill for the upcoming 2010 legislative session after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the Georgia Lottery Corp. gave out $2.7 million in bonuses this year, up 8 percent from last year.
Lottery CEO Margaret DeFrancisco received a $204,034 bonus, up from $150,000 in 2008. That’s on top of a $286,000 salary, which was unchanged from 2008.
Lottery officials say the bonuses are commonly used in private industry to help retain top staffers. Georgia’s lottery, which is among the most successful in the nation, set another sales record in fiscal 2009, which ended June 30.
However, the bonuses have upset lawmakers, who fear the lottery isn’t putting enough of the ticket-sale money toward HOPE scholarships and pre-kindergarten classes.
Seabaugh has filed similar legislation in the past, but it hasn’t gotten very far. Some state leaders worry it would get the General Assembly too involved in running the games. Lawmakers currently only have a very limited oversight role in the Lottery.