State Politics

How strong is support for a lottery in Mississippi? This poll has an idea

Almost 70 percent of Mississippians polled recently said they support the creation of a lottery in the state.
Almost 70 percent of Mississippians polled recently said they support the creation of a lottery in the state. AP File

A poll released Tuesday found overwhelming support for a Mississippi lottery.

The Millsaps College and Chism Strategies on the State of the State Survey also found significant concern over the direction Mississippi is headed. It was released just hours before Gov. Phil Bryant’s State of the State address. The telephone poll of 587 Mississippians was conducted Dec. 15-19. It has a margin of error of 4.08 percent, according to a release from Millsaps. Chism is a consulting firm that focuses on Democratic and progressive candidates.

It said 41.7 percent of the those polled said Mississippi was headed in the right direction and 36.28 percent said it was headed in the wrong direction. Just over 22 percent said they didn’t know.

On the “creation of a lottery in the state,” 68.8 percent said they supported it, 22.8 percent were opposed and 8.4 percent were unsure. More than half, 50.6 percent, favored using the money a lottery would generate for public education, 28.6 percent would spend it on roads and bridges, 5.5 percent to offset corporate tax cuts, 5.9 percent to restore budget cuts and 9.4 percent for “something else.”

Shortly before the poll was released, a Mississippi Senate Democrat filed the first lottery bill. Sen. Willie Simmons’ bill would use the money generated for a variety of public education needs. It would use 25 percent of the proceeds to supplement the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, the funding scheme for public schools. The remaining 75 percent would go into a Education Infrastructure Supplement Fund, which would be divided among the state Board for Community and Junior Colleges (15 percent), the Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning (20 percent) with the remainder going to the Department of Education to give to school districts with small tax bases.

The details and administration of the lottery would be left up to the Gaming Commission.

Sen. Philip Moran, R-Kiln, said last week he would have a lottery bill but he has yet to file one.

Paul Hampton: 228-284-7296, @JPaulHampton