State lottery will contribute about 1 percent of total school revenue this year

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The California State Comptroller estimates that the California State Lottery will generate $244 per student for 2020-21 — a record amount but also a reminder how little the lottery contributes as a portion of the total for TK-12 funding. In 2019-20, it was $191 per student.

This year, the state is estimating per-student funding from the lottery will drop to $228 per student, according to an analysis by School Services of California, a school consulting firm. That will represent about 1.1% of the estimated $21,152 of total funding per student from state, federal and local sources in 2021-22.

For years, the lottery has contributed between 1% and 2% of school revenue. That’s less than most Californians have been led to assume; over the years, the lottery pitched contributions to education as part of its marketing strategy.

Californians passed the lottery in 1984. In an analysis two years ago, the Legislative Analyst’s Office noted that the proceeds spent on prizes have eaten a bigger portion of revenue at education’s expense. While distributions to education have risen, the percent of lottery sales revenue to education dropped from about a third in 2009-10 to less than a quarter in 2017-18. By contrast, the portion going to prizes increased from about half to slightly less than two-thirds.  In 2017-18, K-12 received $216 per student from total lottery revenue for education of $1.4 billion.

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Of the money going to education, about 77% goes to TK-12, 15% to community colleges and the rest divided between the University of California and California State University.

About 30% of the money for TK-12 is apportioned to districts for instructional materials, which they now can spend on computers; districts have flexibility to spend the rest.

In its analysis, the LAO noted that 44 states and Washington, D.C., run lotteries; 29 states returned a greater percentage of revenue to beneficiaries, which included schools in some states.

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