Audit: La. State Racing Commission owes $15M to higher education

Audit: La. State Racing Commission owes $15M to higher education

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A new report from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor's Office exposes a long-term failure to help fund higher education.

The state auditor said the Louisiana State Racing Commission failed to pay the Board of Regents, who oversees higher ed, the legally required one-third of money collected from off-track betting sites, or OTB fees.

That adds up to a higher ed shortfall of $15 million since 1996.

That's $15 million that should have gone to LSU, Southern and the rest of the state's colleges and universities.

"The explanation we received for why they had not made the payments was that they did not have the mechanism to make those payments," said Beth Davis with the Legislative Auditor's Office. "Bottom line, the law exists and the Racing Commission should have ensured compliance with that law."

But even though Davis said the Racing Commission broke the law by keeping too much money for itself, she said there will be no legal penalties, only recommendations.

During a press conference at the State Capitol Monday, Rep. Joe Harrison, R-Gray, said all parties are now trying to figure out how the Racing Commission can pay its $15 million debt.

Rep. Harrison is also proposing more legislation to boost gaming money to elementary, secondary and higher education.

"It's about time that we take all of the gaming money that the voters voted for, put it into education and give our young students and parents the relief they need," said Rep. Harrison.

His legislation is expected to be up for debate when the Legislature meets next spring.

9News called the Racing Commission for comment Monday, but all calls went unreturned.

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