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Detroit Lottery Legislation Comes From Councilman Kwame Kenyatta's 2009 Idea

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In the midst of Detroit's financial crisis, an idea suggested in 2009 to add to the city's coffers might make its way into the legislature, WWJ reports.

State Rep. Dr. Jimmy Womack (D-Detroit) has taken to heart a proposal to create a Detroit lottery, first suggested by City Councilman Kwame Kenyatta several years ago.

"After having my own experiences with a financial manager with the Detroit Public School system it is my belief that the financial woes of Detroit cannot be corrected through simply cutting. We need to have some revenue streams," Womack told WWJ. "I think it would be wise if the citizens had an opportunity in Detroit to vote on whether they would like to establish their own lottery system."

The Michigan Lottery began in 1972. Last fiscal year it generated $701.3 million in net revenue for the state School Aid Fund, which supports public education programs throughout the state. Over the last 39 years, $15.9 billion has gone to education.

When Kenyatta first pitched the idea of a city lottery to Mayor Dave Bing in September 2009, MLive reported he proposed that the revenue it would generate could go to subsidize police and fire. Those two departments are facing cuts under one version of Council's current budget-fixing plan.

Kenyatta has already implemented his own cost-saving measures for the city; he turned in his own government car last week, he said in a Council meeting where members discussed a variety of solutions to cut the city's budget and generate funds.

Council has aimed to identify short-term solutions when looking for budget cuts and potential revenue.

Womack, who is still working on drafting the lottery bill, has not suggested a timeframe for the legislation. "This is just the beginning of the conversation," he told WWJ.

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