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Lottery tickets for college?

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Jan. 27, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
January 27, 2010 6:14 pm

People who buy a lottery ticket may assume that their money is going to education. The truth is more complicated. There are a bunch of destinations for that $1 ticket, and legislators last year made it more complicated by redirecting lottery proceeds to the general fund.

Now state Sen. Jim Kastama wants to earmark almost all lottery money for state colleges and universities.

Senate Bill 6409, which had a public hearing today in front of the Senate higher education committee, would send most lottery money to a new “investment in excellence account” that would fund higher education: things like scholarships and research. Some would keep paying off stadium bonds and treating gambling addicts.

Lottery sales have been stagnant, said Kastama, D-Puyallup, and the change would help sell more tickets by devoting the money to a single purpose that can be advertised.

The money used to go directly to K-12 education, but Kastama said that purpose wasn’t marketed because school districts worried they wouldn’t pass any local levies if voters thought the lottery was taking care of the schoolhouse.

Georgia has devoted its new lottery to higher education, he said, and as a result has sold far more lottery tickets per capita than Washington.

Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, liked the idea but said there needs to be some kind of guarantee the money won’t be grabbed again.

“A lot of the public felt that they were misled,” Becker said. “I know I bought lottery tickets thinking I was supporting the schools.”

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