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Monday, November 16, 2009 - 8:45am

Lottery Execs Draw Bigger Bonuses

Georgia Lottery employees got $2.75 million in bonuses this year, an increase of more than 8 percent. The revelation comes amid continued state budget problems and calls for more oversight of lottery spending.

The information provided by the Lottery to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows CEO Margaret DeFrancisco got a $50,000 bump in her bonus -- to more than $200,000. The paper shows some other top lottery officials received bonuses in the $50,000 range -- unchanged from a year ago.

Lottery officials have said in the past it’s a common practice to use bonuses in private industry to keep top executives. Georgia’s lottery doesn’t get state funding, and was set-up by the Legislature to run like a business.

But given state budget cutbacks, the heat has been turned-up by some lawmakers on the lottery’s operations. Republican State Senator Mitch Seabaugh of Sharpsburg calls the bonus payouts "outrageous" in a quote to the AJC. He’s been pushing for more legislative oversight of the lottery. Other lawmakers tell the AJC the lottery needs to give more money to the state’s HOPE scholarship and pre-K programs.

The Georgia Lottery continues to be one of the more successful in the nation. The fiscal year that ended June 30th was another record-year for lotto sales in the state.