With Mega Millions fever still running rampant after the over $640 million (annuitized) jackpot that was won this past week, with the three winners taking home around $213 million prior to taxes, a question is raised — how much is enough?
In California, The California State Lottery Act of 1984 was created to provide additional funds (fresh money) to benefit public schools without raising taxes. To this end the lottery was required to provide at least 34 percent of revenues to public education to supplement (not replace) other funds provided by California. In 2010 this was amended to provide an increase of funds available to education.
Last year, over $1.1 billion was distributed to state public schools. The problem is, as California continues to slash spending for education, lottery revenue is used (when allowable) to offset decreases in funding so the original intent of the lottery, which voters passed of providing fresh money for public education, is not happening. Even with the proposed ballot issue to increase public school funding, local school budgets will continue to be cut. The time has come for the lottery commission to consider some other alternatives, like putting a cap on the total amount to be won. For instance, once the lottery amount reaches a certain level, let’s say $12 million, tickets can still be purchased, but all additional revenue generated above $12 million would go to the schools. This would provide hundreds of millions in additional funding. Would this cause overall lottery sales to decrease? Who knows? Lottery sales were up 13 percent over last year (2010 vs. 2011) and the higher the jackpot the more state tax that is paid, and we have seen what the government does with its spending. So why give them more money? So how much money is enough to get people excited about playing the lottery? I think $12 million would do it and provide a lot more money for our schools.
Wasn’t that the original concept we voted for?