Lotteries aren't always what they promised to state education
"What has six balls and screws teachers? State lotteries."
We wish we could take credit for the (unfortunately not-so-funny) joke. The line comes from the Eduwonk blog today, highlighting a news story from Virginia that just as easily could have been written about Florida (as versions have been).
"Anyone who has bought a Virginia lottery ticket has seen it.
"'Helping Virginia's Public Schools' reads the tagline printed on the backs of tickets. The lottery's website goes a step further, declaring: 'More than $5 billion contributed to public education!'
"Technically, it's true. All proceeds from the lottery do go to the state's public schools. Just not in the way many people think.
"According to educators who have watched the lottery for years, much of the public believes the lottery money is extra funding, on top of what the state is required to give. They remember the lottery being pitched that way, as bonus funding, when Virginians voted on it 24 years ago.
"Instead, educators say, the state is now using all of the lottery money - about $450 million a year - to meet its own obligations to the schools. None of it reaches local coffers as extra funding."
Can you imagine if the lottery money were indeed supplemental? Maybe stories about another round of looming spending cuts wouldn't be so prevalent.