The gall, the nerve, the absolute impudence of New Mexico Lottery Authority Executive Director David Barden to ask the state Legislative Finance Committee to consider cutting Lottery Scholarships so that Barden can increase prizes.

    It really should come as no surprise. Barden’s modis operendi has always been, “cut scholarships, increase my pay and prizes,” in that order.

    Barden has become a perennial fixture in the Roundhouse, each spring asking to give New Mexico students' tuition a hair cut, by lowering the 30 percent threshold for scholarships. He argues more and bigger prizes will boost the overall scholarship dollar amount, while lowering the percentage paid.

    That falls under President George Bush’s “fuzzy math” description.

    What should infuriate the governor, who selects the Authority board, is that Barden just got a big fat raise, which came at the expense of prize payouts, because he couldn’t take it from scholarships. Just a few months ago Barden received a 26 percent raise, taking his annual salary from $179,000 to $225,000.

    He argues New Mexico’s lottery payouts are the lowest in the country. We don’t doubt that. We have one of the smallest lotteries in the nation and one that is set up to benefit students going to college. We also have a relatively small population, a smaller group of people playing the lottery and a high rate of people living in poverty.

    We’ve all heard the crazy statistics about winning the lottery. It’s compared to lightning strikes, shark attacks and asteroid collisions.

    We don’t have an answer to Barden’s search for increased play. Perhaps it’s a good thing that money spent on the lottery is down. That means people are using their money wisely, caring for needs, instead of lofty lottery dreams.

    We get a session off from Barden’s ludicrous requests. He said he would not seek the change during the upcoming short session, focused on budget issues. It begs the question why he showed up in front of the Committee at all, other than to rattle cages, a feat at which he was successful.

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