WICHITA, Kansas – Since it was started back in 1987, the Kansas Lottery has generated billions of dollars. Some of it goes to lottery players, and the part of it is given back to the state. There’s no denying, people love playing the Kansas Lottery to win big jackpots.
At the Heritage Inn in Wichita, Susan Tague sells a ton of those tickets. But, she’s a little fuzzy when it comes to knowing where the money actually goes.
“No, I don’t. I’d like to know,” said Tague.
The misconception behind the merit
Sally Lunsford with the Kansas Lottery says money going to benefit K-12 education has been a misconception for years.
“We do get calls occasionally from people who say, ‘I thought the money from the lottery did go to education in Kansas’, but it never has, at least not K-12 education,” said Lunsford.
That’s right, no Kansas Lottery money goes towards K-12 education. The bulk of lottery funds raised is to create and retain jobs in Kansas.
Follow the money
For fiscal year 2014, the Kansas Lottery raked in more than $245 million. More than half of that is paid in prizes. Over $74 million went back to the state.
Of that $74 million, more than $42 million funded economic development. Nearly $2.5 million funded juvenile detention facilities. Almost, $5 million was distributed to the Correctional Institutions Building Fund. $80,000 went to problem gambling, and over $24 million went into the state General Fund.
Interesting Fact | A Great Bend man is the biggest winner in Kansas, winning $96.6 Million from Powerball in November 2009.
Some lottery players, like Sue Johnson, say a funding switch should be made.
“Oh, it should have been done a long time ago. It should have been done a long time ago. At least 75 percent ought to go to the school,” said Johnson.
The state is also in the casino business, and those funds fall under the Kansas Lottery. But, not a cent from gaming goes to K-12 education either. Some goes to community and technical colleges, but much of it benefits the state retirement fund or KPERS.
In fiscal year 2014, the state cashed in over $350 million in casino revenue. $78 million of that went back to the state. Some goes to higher learning and KPERS, but not to K-12 education. Local governments where the casino are got more than $10.5 million. The Problem Gaming and Addictions Grant Fund received a little over $7 million. The casino companies responsible for running and managing the buildings took in over $250 million.
How lawmakers think the money should be spent
Wichita lawmakers, State Senator Michael O’Donnell and State Representative Jim Ward both say that the money should be off-limits.
“That lottery money is better spent in the retirement program than if we just send it to individual programs throughout K-12 education or throughout corrections or infrastructure issues,” said O’Donnell
“You look at technical colleges, what we’re doing at Wichita State with the aviation program. You take that money away and those programs disappear,” said Ward.
But with schools struggling, why not use the lottery money for K-12 education? Ward says it wouldn’t be enough.
“It would help. OK, we’re going to take this $85 million from the casinos, and this $75 million from the lottery, that’s about $150-$160 million, that’s real money. But, when you look at the perspective of the $6 billion [total] budget, it doesn’t solve the shortfall that we have, which is almost a billion dollars going forward,” said Ward.
At the Heritage Inn, Susan Tague says it is time to give our students some of that money and lawmakers should rewrite the law.
“If some of the money went toward the schools, then they could afford to pay the teachers and principals more,” said Tague.
How do our state neighbor’s compare?