As the state Lottery marks its 25th year in existence, education leaders consider the impact the lottery’s money has had over the years.
Ron Lankford, the Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, says lottery proceeds make up about 3 percent annual budget.
“It would be a hole that if it were lost, we would miss it. I mean, we’re talking about $100 million (annually), roughly, so it is a significant amount,” Lankford said. “Does it supply all of the money? Does it, by itself, support public education? No it doesn’t, but if it were gone it would be missed.”
Lankford says that figures out to around $100 per student that comes from the lottery proceeds. The General Assembly decides which programs receive that money.
“It’s really driven to the foundation formula, primarily. We will get some money to support the A+ program, special education, it’s spread out,” Lankford said.
While he celebrates the 25 year mark, he also acknowledges a problem with the funding.
“At the present time, there’s about a $24 million dollar shortfall in gaming. Of course, that encompasses the gaming money in addition to the lottery. I will say the General Assembly’s done an outstanding job of trying to protect elementary and secondary education. But right now we’re looking at about a $24 million shortfall in the FY-11 year,” Lankford said.