The Pryor Times

Opinion

October 24, 2013

Where do Oklahoma lottery dollars go?

PRYOR, OK — Where do Oklahoma lottery dollars go?

I am often asked what happens to the money raised by the lottery in Oklahoma. The money is contributed to education. As of June 2013, the lottery has contributed $558,626,494 to education since inception in 2005 in the following manner.

Roughly 5.5 percent goes to Career Tech for equipment upgrades and scholarships.  More than $29 million has been used for such projects as new pumper trucks for fire training and new patient simulators to train nurses, etc. Public schools that have Career Tech classes have received a total of 253 equipment grants totaling $1.9 million.

Another 45 percent of the lottery money goes to public K-12 schools for things that include, but are not limited to, compensation and benefits for public school teachers and support employees and early childhood development programs. In addition, some schools have bought library books, text books, laboratory equipment and computers with their lottery money.

Another 38.5 percent goes to our state’s public universities and colleges. This has totaled more than $270 million over the years. Uses include construction of facilities, technology, endowed chairs for professors and programs and personnel of the Oklahoma School for the Deaf and Blind.

Approximately 5 percent goes to the Teachers’ Retirement Fund. Our retired teachers on average now live so long that the money they have contributed to their retirement funds over the years is not enough to cover their retirement income. The additional $30 million the lottery has put in that fund has been very helpful.

Finally, another 5 percent of the funds from the lottery go to a fund designed to help small schools consolidate in order to hold down expenses. As there have been very few consolidations, most of this $30 million is still in the fund.

You will see a bill in the upcoming session that recommends increasing the percentage of each ticket price that goes into the prize fund, which means less money from each ticket would go toward education. In theory, a larger prize stimulates selling more tickets, which would result in more total dollars going to education in the long run.

Oklahomans voted for the lottery with the understanding that net proceeds of all lottery games are to be used to support improvements and enhancements for education purposes and programs; furthermore, net proceeds will be used to supplement, rather than replace, existing funds for education. It is obvious that we do need a better accounting system of the funds as I am unable to tell each individual school district exactly how much money they get from the lottery each year. If we change the prize formula, I will work on getting a better accounting system placed into the same legislative bill.

It is a pleasure to serve as your state

representative. I can be reached at dougcox@okhouse.gov or 405-557-7415. 

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