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Why the lottery isn’t helping Oklahoma education as much as you think it should

Oklahoma Lottery

This is an archived story on the Lottery how it funds Oklahoma education.

Here is that article to refresh you on why Lottery Money doesn’t foot the whole bill.

 

(Original Story January 2016) OKLAHOMA – Districts found out last week they would have to slash their budgets. Something that is hard to do at the halfway point in the school year.

It’s an unimaginable – and seemingly impossible – task to adjust their budgets at this point in the year.

It has left many Oklahomans wondering, “Why hasn’t the lottery helped Oklahoma’s education funding problems?”

The truth is, the lottery has helped some, but with budgets being slashed in recent years, Oklahomans haven’t been able to see much of a difference.

Money for education was the key promise behind launching the Oklahoma Lottery.

“What you hear a lot around here is that the lottery never lived up to those promises,”  Rollo Redburn, the executive director of the Oklahoma Lottery Commission, told KFOR in Jan. 2015.

Last year, Redburn said the lottery is bringing in $200 million a year and giving 35 percent of that to education.

Redburn says the other 65 percent of the earnings go back into the lottery to keep the program running and for the prize payouts that go to lottery winners.

So with about $70 million going to Oklahoma education each year, why don’t we see a difference?

According to the Oklahoma Policy Institute, in 2014, the state legislature divided the lottery revenue for education as follows:

  • $31.4 million for the K-12 school funding formula
  • $3.5 million for the School Consolidation Assistance Fund
  • $3.5 million for the Teachers’ Retirement System
  • $3.8 million for Career Tech
  • $27.6 million for higher education

“The $31.4 million that the lottery provided to the school funding formula this year makes up just 1.7 percent of the formula,” the Oklahoma Policy Institute reports.

So in a year when our state has seen 3 percent mandatory cuts to government-funded agencies, the contributions from the lottery are not very noticeable.

The contributions certainly help, but are a small portion of Oklahoma’s school funding needs.

Read more on the Oklahoma Policy Institute’s Why didn’t the lottery solve Oklahoma’s education funding problems? here