ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The CEO for the New Mexico Lottery is getting a 26 percent raise. Some, including the Governor’s Office, are questioning why his salary is now $220,000.
While some believe that money should benefit students, the chairman of the organization said the public perception is wrong. “I think that it is a response to a lack of understanding and misinformation that is put out into the public,” Lottery Board Chairman Dr. Dan Salzwedel said.
Salzwedel said the increase for CEO David Barden is smaller than it appears. “In comparison to the more money that could be going towards scholarship funds, we are talking about peanuts by comparison,” Salzwedel said.
Barden’s old agreement had bonuses tied to performance. Now, all the potential earnings for bonuses is just part of his salary.
“More than a year ago, we made a conversion based upon what he would have accomplished based on those conversion points,” Salzwedel said. “He did not get a raise. It was simply a conversion to what he would have gotten if he hit those points.”
Salzwedel said Barden would have received the bonuses anyway. On the other hand, some argue that the money should go towards funding scholarships.
“Is the lottery doing a 26% better job of getting scholarship money to New Mexico students?” Governor’s Office spokesperson Tripp Stelnicki asked. “I think if people find this salary and increase to be inequitable or improper, they have some justification for feeling that way.”
Salzwedel blames the state’s 30% rule for lower-than-desired production, which requires the lottery to put 30% of gross sales into a scholarship program, putting caps on prizes for scratchers.
“We could be generating more money than we are right now if we didn’t have that 30 percent requirement,” Salzwadel said. “Barden is getting what he deserves. If you eliminate that 30%, there would be more money coming into the scholarship fund.”
While the chair maintains that the CEO is not receiving a raise at the moment, he did say it is possible the CEO will receive a 4% raise in 2020 pending his annual review.
Lottery sales were up in 2018 after the worst year in sales in 2017.