Powerball Revenue Helping Missouri's Schools at Modest Levels
JEFFERSON CITY - The two dollars you wasted losing the lottery this week may be good for something after all.
The sharp increase in Powerball ticket sales - spurred by the allure of a record $588 million jackpot -- translates to about $8.7 million in revenue for public education in Missouri, according to Susan Geodde of the Missouri State Lottery. That's hardly a noticeable amount with more than $3 billion budgeted for K-12 education in fiscal year 2013, but the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education won't complain about additional funding.
Although Sarah Potter, a communications coordinator for the department, would not speculate as to how the state legislature would allocate the money, she said it could help "fill the gaps." For example, it could potentially help restore some of the programs Gov. Jay Nixon cut this summer, including tutoring programs in Kanas City and St. Louis and an Early-Grade Literacy program. Nixon said he cut those programs in order to make up for a predicted budget shortfall, which he blamed on poor projections by the general assembly. In June, he said the legislature saddled him with a $50 million shortfall and disagreed with lawmakers' assumptions that lottery funds would total $35 million.
On Friday, budget director Linda Luebbering told KOMU 8 News the lottery totals are far behind that mark right now. She said she will not know for another month or so how this week's Powerball revenue impacts that number.
In terms of the $8.7 million, however, the state could also use some of the modest funding for school transportation. Potter said those costs continue to increase every year.
Overall lottery funds often make up a decent portion of education funding in Missouri, regardless of this week's single Powerball payout. Potter said 16 percent of her department's funding comes from the lottery.
"Hopefully, that extra boost is going to cover some of those increasing costs," Potter said. "I think because the state foundation formula has been underfunded, you've really placed a lot of the burden on local districts and local municipalities to make up the difference."
Potter is referring to the fact that while the state funded K-12 education at record levels in fiscal year 2013, it still falls short of Missouri's funding formula.
"That's really one of the biggest initiatives coming into the legislative year that we need to focus on," Potter said. "In some places like Columbia, you've seen taxes go up because the state wasn't able to fully fund the formula."