Right now, your state lawmakers are in Austin are looking for ways to increase school funding. One idea: $5,000 raises for all teachers. That would cost an estimated 3.7 billion dollars. So, they'd have to figure out where all that money would come from.
Several Verify viewers have written me, wondering if proceeds from the Texas Lottery can help? Janelle Vahdat asks:
"I seem to recall the main focus with the funds were to be for education. The education piece is probably why the lottery passed. Could you verify where the Texas lottery money ends up?"
To answer that, I'm looking at what state law says and at state financial reports.
But let's start by going back to 1992, that’s when Ann Richards was Governor. She bought the very first lottery ticket at a feed store, outside Austin.
The Texas Lottery was born when the legislature approved an amendment to the constitution, Article 3, Section 47, to "… authorize the State to operate lotteries…" A later amendment clarified that after expenses, lottery proceeds would go to schools.
Now, back to today. The Texas Lottery Commission reports players spent $5.6B on the lottery in 2018.
But before you go spending that on schools, we've got some bills to pay. Less than 1 percent goes to veteran programs, 4 percent goes toward lottery administration costs, about 5 percent goes to the retailers and 65 percent goes to pay the winners. That leaves about 26 percent to deposit in the state's education fund.
Now, that new number is $1.4 billion dollars. But, you know, $1.4 billion just ain't what it used to be. According to the Texas Education Agency, funding the state's public school system costs Texans almost $21 billion dollars. Lottery funds only made up a 7 percent slice of that.
So, is the lottery money going to education? Yes. But, relatively speaking, it’s not a lot and it’s already accounted for in the existing education budget. So, lawmakers, promising more for education and going to have to find new funds somewhere else.
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