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State: Nothing illegal, unconstitutional about $10 million lottery mixup

OKLAHOMA CITY – The state finance secretary is praising the government’s “process” of checks-and-balances as it explains how the state came to owe $10 million to the state lottery.

Proceeds from the lottery are sent to education but may only be used as a supplement to its general funding – not to supplant or replace missing money.

This year, for the first time, the Oklahoma Board of Equalization found $10 million had been supplanted.

“There’s nothing illegal about what happened,” wrote Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger, in an email to media intended to “clarify” what had happened. “The board’s finding is a constitutional and statutory requirement to point out the issue. As a result, the Legislature is constitutionally bound to take up the process from here and ensure the $10 million gets appropriated to the Lottery Trust Fund. This needs to be addressed before any appropriations can be made for fiscal year 2018.”

The mistake goes back to a revenue failure for Fiscal Year 2016, Doerflinger wrote.

When the financial situation wasn’t as bad as anticipated, the state received money back, which threw off its original estimate.

“There was no way to anticipate agencies would receive this revenue at the time of the FY 2017 budget agreement,” Doerflinger wrote, “and, therefore, no way to accurately anticipate the exact FY 2016 appropriations base.”

The Office of Management and Enterprise Services said all lottery funds were fully appropriated, no money was lost and education got its full allotment of lottery funds.