Ohio Lawmaker: ‘Vax-A-Million’ Lotto a ‘Gross Misuse of Taxpayer Dollars’

Ohio Lawmaker: 'Vax-A-Million' Lotto a 'Gross Misuse of Taxpayer Dollars' Ohio Lawmaker: 'Vax-A-Million' Lotto a 'Gross Misuse of Taxpayer Dollars' Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (AP)

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Monday, 24 May 2021 04:02 PM

An Ohio Republican lawmaker trying through legislation to stop Ohio's Vax-a-Million lotto, which will divide $5 million between five Buckeye State residents who have gotten their COVID-19 shots, argued Monday that the drawing is a "gross misuse of taxpayer dollars."

The deadline for registrations ended on Sunday, with the first of five drawings being held Wednesday, but Rep. Jena Powell told CNN's "New Day" that there is no proof that the gimmick, designed by GOP Gov. Mike DeWine to encourage people to get their shots, has had much of an effect on getting people to roll up their sleeves.

"To begin with, correlation is not always causation," Powell said. "There's a lot of reasons why we've seen vaccine intake continue up in our state. There's a lot of ways that we can inform Ohioans and have them work with their health care provider to see what's best for them in taking the vaccine and how to protect the most vulnerable in our state."

However, more than 25,400 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine went into Ohioans' arms on May 14, the highest number in a day in three weeks, just two days after DeWine announced the drawings.

Powell agreed that people should get the shot, but they also should work with their own doctors and decide what is best for their health rather than decide based on a giving like a money giveaway.

Also, there have been more clinics that have popped up in Ohio, which is another reason numbers are up, said Powell.

"There are a lot of reasons, more information around the United States, more talk, more information," she said. "All of those things come into play to make the best decision for themselves and their families."

She further argued that "most people in our state, whether it be the most liberal lawmakers, conservatives, and Ohioans understand that the Vax-a-Million program is a misuse of dollars."

"Ohio doesn't want gimmicky programs to get a vaccine," she said. "They have the ability to take the vaccine and that's incredible, but Ohioans don't want gimmicky programs."

Powell also said that $5 million may not be a lot when it comes to the widespread state spending, but still, "every single dollar matters."

"When we see a gimmicky program that is misusing $5 million, we have to speak out about that," she said. "We can use that money for a lot of things, one of which is small business. The money could then go to the small business COVID relief fund."

Powell also rejected the argument that vaccines could help small businesses reopen.

"The pushback that I am having, and many Ohioans are having is that the Vax-a-Million program seems like a bribe to Americans," she said. "We feel it's a gross misuse of taxpayer dollars. We can't really correlate the two, between the vaccine program and us not wanting vaccines to happen in our state. We want everyone to receive vaccines if that's what their personal health care provider has said. When it comes to $5 million, that could do a lot of good for small business relief or children's mental health."

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