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Q: Gambling for Education?

Lottery won't cover educational budget gap

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    Since 1997, the Texas Lottery has been putting a portion of the proceeds toward an education fund for Texas schools. But those who think buying scratch-offs will scratch off the lack of funding for educational institutions are betting on the wrong horse.

    According to the Texas Lottery's website, money generated by the lottery in 2011 was divided into five different areas: 25 percent went to the Foundation School Fund (the educational element), 5 percent went to retailer commissions (money paid to the sellers of winning lottery tickets), 5 percent went to the administrative costs of running the lottery, and two percent of the total went to other state programs after lottery winners did not claim their prizes.

    The bulk of the money -- 63 percent of the total funds -- went to lottery winners.

    But what of that 25 percent devoted to schools? In 2011, the total amount given to the Foundation School Fund was $0.96 billion. The 2010-11 education budget was $50 billion. The recommended 2012-13 budget reduced that amount to $43.3 billion -- a change of $6.7 billion for the two years.

    The lottery's contribution to education funding was never designed to replace the budget's main source of income, which are property taxes. Other sources of income, including federal education funding, help make up the bulk of Texas education funding.

    Sources: Texas Lottery, State of Texas Legislative Budget Estimates

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