TULSA, Okla. – FOX23 viewers across Green Country have been asking “What happened to Oklahoma lottery money? Wasn’t it supposed to go towards education?”
Millions in lottery money has gone to support education, but Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist says that, when you compare it to the overall education budget, it’s a small fraction of what’s needed, and, in fact, it doesn’t even make up what’s been cut from education.
Plus, only 45 percent of that money goes toward K-12 education, while the rest goes to higher education and other funds.
The lottery commission says it wasn’t created to save education but to enhance it.
FOX23 answers your frequently asked questions:
Does lottery money really go to education?
Yes, the lottery has given between $60 million and $70 million a year to education. But it’s only a fraction of education’s actual budget – a couple billion
dollars. Only 45% of funding goes to K-12 education. The rest goes to higher ed and other funds.
Why hasn’t the lottery saved education?
More state funding to education has been cut over the past 10 years than the lottery has given education.
Where does the lottery money go?
It goes into the general education fund. None was earmarked for any specific program until a 2017 law was passed. Now, any amount over $50 million will now go to pre-k to third grade reading and stem programs.
Does anyone check to make sure lottery money is extra money for education?
The State Board of Equalization checks to make sure lottery money is truly extra. It found Oklahoma lawmakers had taken 10 million dollars out of the lottery fund last year to fill the education budget, which is not allowed. Lawmakers say they have to return that money at some point.
How have lawmakers been funding education since the lottery money started coming in?
FOX23 checked the numbers. In the first five years when lottery money started coming in, the state started allocating less money for education.
A 2017 law may help give more money to education. It allows increases to prize money, and that has boosted sales. The new law says proceeds over $50 million will now go to common education, reading and STEM programs.
Teachers can’t tell you how schools spend lottery money, because it goes into education’s general fund.
The lottery commission says that the more tangible it becomes, the more successful the lottery can be.
Lottery money is supposed to be extra, but when FOX23 looked at what happened when lottery money started coming in, the amount lawmakers gave to education started going down.
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