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Why not a Utah lottery?
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

How many of us from Utah went to Idaho recently — not at gunpoint, mind you, but of our own choosing — to purchase a ticket for the $550 million lottery drawing? Heaven forbid that Utah would participate in the multi-state lottery system and keep that money in our state for our public education system.

Instead, let's raise the food tax on everyone in Utah. Rep. John Valentine, R-Orem, said on KSL Channel 5 News Nov. 30 that raising the food tax would amount to a zero-sum growth in tax revenue due to offsets and deductions for lower-income Utahns.

Valentine also said that the majority of the revenue derived from this "non-tax increase" would be used to help fund public education.

How many times have we heard that, or something like it, and Utah still has the lowest per-student funding in the nation? What Valentine isn't saying is that what he is pushing is, in fact, a tax increase for the majority of us living in Utah. (Taking our money at gunpoint and not of our choosing.)

On the other hand, Utah participation in the lottery likely would give a significant boost to the state's ability to better fund education.

As things stand now, I'm sure Idaho residents and the Idaho Legislature appreciate Utah's support of their economy and public education system. Does this make sense to anyone in Utah other than those in our state Legislature?

I propose that the Utah Legislature fund a study to be conducted by the Idaho State Lottery. The study would require Idaho lottery ticket vendors to see the temple recommend of anyone from Utah attempting to purchase a lottery ticket.

This study would help Utah determine more closely the level of support or opposition to a Utah lottery. If, by chance, Utah did get into the lottery business and any of those holding temple recommends overindulged and were unable to feed their family, the LDS Church has a fine welfare program that could fill the gap.

Bruce Willden is retired from the U.S. Air Force and Utah Air National Guard with 33 years service. He lives in Garden City, Utah.

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