Iowa Officials Debate Pension Lottery Investments

January 23, 2009 ( - State of Iowa lawmakers are debating whether to privatize the state's Lottery program or possibly sell or lease it to the state public pension system to help generate much-needed revenue.

A Waterloo Courier news report said Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley attacked suggestions the Lottery be privatized, and pushed hard for the competing proposal involving the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System (IPERS).

According to the news account, McKinley asserted that allowing IPERS to purchase or lease the lottery would give the Iowa general fund an immediate boost and, at the same time, represent a stable IPERS funding source in future years. “This is safer than the stock market,” McKinley said. “It’s a significantly better return if they intend to do it.”

For her part, IPERS CEO Donna Mueller was non-committal when asked about the issue.

“Our investment team looks at various business proposals and you know, we’re always open to looking to add new business proposals,” the Courier quoted Mueller as responding, when asked by reporters. “Beyond that, I really can’t comment.”

IPERS officials told state lawmakers Thursday that the system had $21.8 billion in assets as of fiscal year 2008, with liabilities of $24.5 billion.