Does revenue from state lotteries adequately support funding for public schooling?“Play the State Lottery!” Almost every state in the union has a lottery. Most promise that revenue from the...
“Play the State Lottery!” Almost every state in the union has a lottery. Most promise that revenue from the lotteries will be used to fund public school systems. This approach makes gamblers perhaps feel somewhat better about taking their chances, even if they do not hold the winning numbers or scratch off a winning match. In the late 1980s, many states “prompted by fiscal crisis” instituted lotteries as a way to supplement tax income. But nearly thirty years later, school systems still struggle while lotteries, for the most part, thrive. Furthermore, the perception that the lotteries are taking care of schools due to the revenue generated from playing the games is actually hurting other means of support, as requests for tax hikes are voted down. Should states be forced to show the public how much money from lotteries is actually going towards improving education?
Speaking of California, the state lottery has consistently provided less than 2% of the state K-12 budget. The highest contribution was 1.7% during the 1999-2000 school year. 2000-2001 school year contribution was 1.5 %. The next year saw 1.6%. There have been repeated dips and rises between 1.3% and 1.6% thereafter until 2007-2008 where it hit the low of 1.2% and has stayed there through the current school year. Even these low percentages represent about $800 million a year at the 1.2% low.
But this says nothing about what the lottery does not fulfill or about how other sources drop off or are enhanced by the state lottery contribution. Proposition 20 called for contributions to K-14, public school + community colleges + the California university system. Prop 20 also asserted that lottery contributions would not affect other federal contributions to educational budgets. The 1999-2000 school year projection in the proposed Prop 20 was $702 million.
If the current percentage is 1.2 at about $800 million, and if 1999-2000 came in at a 1.7% contribution (more than the current $800 million), then it seems the California State Lottery is, even at its worst level, outperforming its expectations. Whether Prop 20 was able to safeguard other contributions as promised is another question.
It depends on what you call "adequate." When teachers are being furloughed or let go, then no. When schools can't afford the technology to keep up with the real world, then no. When schools are operating with twice the enrollment that they were built for, then no.
I guess the anwer, at least from my teaching perspective, is no.