Regi test: As scratch ticket sales stagnate, Lottery leaders double down on online sales push

BOSTON — Through the first five months of the fiscal year, the Massachusetts Lottery has sold $11.5 million less of its scratch tickets and draw games than the same period last fiscal year, executive director Michael Sweeney said, and that year-to-date deficit is expected to grow.

Through November, the Lottery has taken in $2.195 billion in sales, $11.5 million or 0.5 percent less than the $2.2065 billion in sales in the first five months of the previous fiscal year.

That $11.5 million deficit over the previous year will likely expand, Sweeney said, because the monthly sales reports for January and February will be compared to those months last fiscal year that included sales for the historic $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot.

“Unfortunately, unless something happens with Powerball over the next two months I’m expecting this to grow because you’re going to start to see last year’s Powerball factor really start to kick in over the next two or three months,” he told the Lottery Commission Tuesday morning, Dec. 20.

As scratch ticket sales stagnate, Lottery leaders double down on online sales push

BOSTON — Through the first five months of the fiscal year, the Massachusetts Lottery has sold $11.5 million less of its scratch tickets and draw games than the same period last fiscal year, executive director Michael Sweeney said, and that year-to-date deficit is expected to grow.

Through November, the Lottery has taken in $2.195 billion in sales, $11.5 million or 0.5 percent less than the $2.2065 billion in sales in the first five months of the previous fiscal year.

That $11.5 million deficit over the previous year will likely expand, Sweeney said, because the monthly sales reports for January and February will be compared to those months last fiscal year that included sales for the historic $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot.

“Unfortunately, unless something happens with Powerball over the next two months I’m expecting this to grow because you’re going to start to see last year’s Powerball factor really start to kick in over the next two or three months,” he told the Lottery Commission Tuesday morning, Dec. 20.

Sina-cism: Time for Jill Stein to go back to Town Meeting

As a fundamentally friendly and open-minded guy, I really wanted to like Jill Stein and her Green Party. I favor competition, whether in business, life, sports or politics. Many, myself included, had hoped for a viable third party in the recent election.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

Moreover, I view candidates and parties as continuing forces whose fortunes and ideas rise and fall. Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater stood no chance in 1964, for example, but played a huge role in shaping Ronald Reagan’s victory 16 years later.

But I am done flirting with Jill Stein — and I’ve never even met the woman. At least, I don’t think I have. At some point during my tenure as a mild-mannered reporter, columnist and editorial writer for a once-great metropolitan newspaper I may have crossed paths with her. If so, neither database nor diary hints of it.

The end of the would-be intellectual affair was confirmed by the recount debacle that Stein engineered in the wake of the 2016 election. But the warning signs have been there for some time.

Randell: OPEB contributions leave much to be desired

How do you feel about the city touting $2.1 million in contributions now knowing the liability increased more than $78 million in one year?” Bill Randell doesn’t feel great about it, that’s for sure. Find out why.

On Beacon Hill: A Green Christmas for legal marijuana advocates

From State House News Service

ON THE AGENDA

  • Legal marijuana rolls up to State House
  • Baker eyes deeper partnership after Israel trip
  • Healey wants answers from Tillerson
  • 900 buyouts spare state employee layoffs

TOP OF THE HILL

For legal marijuana advocates, it’s a Green Christmas

BOSTON — A decade ago, a Massachusetts State Police cruiser, lights on, pulling up onto the sidewalk at a cannabis celebration might have been cause for alarm among attendees.

Last Thursday, the first day of marijuana legalization under a ballot law, the brief presence of a police vehicle — which was turning around to head down Beacon Street — didn’t cause a stir among activists showing off their green product for the news media outside the State House.

Scituate resident Keith Saunders, a member of the board of directors of the pro-marijuana-legalization NORML, held out a jar that he said contained just under an ounce of marijuana that was grown and gifted to him by a patient. Saunders told reporters he was giving people marijuana from his jar as they asked for it.

The ballot law permits people 21 and over to carry up to an ounce of marijuana in public and gift up to an ounce. It allows individuals to grow up to six plants, limiting it to 12 per household, and to possess up to 10 ounces of cannabis at home. A regulatory regime for retail sale of the drug is not yet established, and unregulated sales remain illegal. But the legal flow of marijuana has begun.

Keith Saunders holds a jar of what he said was nearly an ounce of newly legalized marijuana outside the State House Dec. 15.

Andy Metzger / State House News Service

Keith Saunders holds a jar of what he said was nearly an ounce of newly legalized marijuana outside the State House Dec. 15.

For Saunders, holding what he said was about a two-month supply of pot on a Beacon Hill sidewalk felt natural.

Rosenberg highlights likely 2017 priorities on Beacon Hill

BOSTON — Senate President Stanley Rosenberg hinted at 2017 agenda items, highlighting climate change, housing, education funding, and economic issues for low- and middle-income families while not dismissing the possibility of raising taxes to help pay for those initiatives.

“We still have some huge needs around housing and homelessness, we haven’t done a multi-year commitment to education funding in a long time, we did improve funding on transportation but there’s still a big gap compared to what people want us to deliver, and let’s not forget the opioid heroin crisis,” he said Tuesday, Dec. 13.

“Of course, we’re going to continue to work on economic issues for all folks, but particular for low- and moderate-income people.”

Rosenberg said he also expects the Senate to focus in 2017 on an issue that held Beacon Hill’s attention for much of the current session: energy. That work led to a law giving hydropower and offshore wind prominent roles in the state’s energy mix, but Rosenberg said the legislative work on energy is not done.

Moe Bergman: Ignoring nonprofit discussions and tax classification

Why would state-owned land depreciate to less than one-third its value over the last five years — shouldn’t it have been going up in value during this period of state-boosted economic development and college expansion?” One city councilor points a finger at what taxpayers should really be concerned about.

Randell: So, you think Worcester only raises taxes 2.5 percent every year? Think again.

“For the most part, the average taxpayer believes that the tax levy can only go up 2 ½ percent unless there is an override. But “new growth” caused a 4.4 percent increase for the current fiscal year and could do the same again. City businessman Bill Randell, and several savvy friends, say let’s put new growth in its place.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 118]: Checking it twice with Charlie Baker

One thing even the luckiest, best-behaved children have learned over the years is that you won’t always find everything from your Christmas list underneath that sagging blue Balsam Fir.

So, y’know, having reasonable expectations and handling disappointment are handy lessons — gifts, you could say — to stuff in your back pocket for later in life. And with sagging revenues nipping at his heels and the holidays in full swing, of course Charlie Baker decided it was time for a trip to the mall.

Hitch tagged along.

On Beacon Hill: Baker’s budget ax grinds DeLeo’s gears

From State House News Service

ON THE AGENDA

  • Baker’s $98 million move rankles State House leaders
  • Keefe, area legislators denounce governor’s broad budget cuts
  • Legal marijuana on tap this week as votes are ready for certification
  • McGovern gets down to business in Boston
  • DeLeo signs off on new Red Sox ace Chris Sale

Gov. Charlie Baker last week unilaterally slashed $98 million from the state budget to address flagging revenues.

Antonio Caban / State House News Service

Gov. Charlie Baker last week unilaterally slashed $98 million from the state budget to address flagging revenues.

TOP OF THE HILL

Baker’s budget ax grinds DeLeo’s gears

House Speaker Robert DeLeo and his band of not-so-merry Democrats tiptoed out on a limb last week made of brittle budget projections and the hopes of a snowless, crimeless, healthy winter full of Main Street shopping and large bonus checks.

Underneath, Gov. Charlie Baker sat with his calculator banking on the branch to crack.

Baker warmed an otherwise mild political off-season last Tuesday when he announced he would use his executive authority to trim $98 million from the state’s $39.25 billion state budget, a rather modest sum until lawmakers began to see where he applied his X-Acto knife.

From the governor’s perch, he decided he had seen enough of yo-yoing revenue reports — including a disappointing November — that had tax collections up one month and down the next. Rather than wait to see what December or January brings, he started paring back spending immediately.