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Lottery Ticket Sales Benefit Schools, But Not Much

Aired 4/2/12 on KPBS News.

A potential windfall for Mega Millions ticket buyers translates into a trickling revenue stream for state's schools.

Ticket sales for lotteries like last week’s record-breaking $640 million Mega Millions jackpot are meant to fuel more than gamblers’ dreams of life-altering wealth. California schools will see more than $100 million from this latest case of lotto fever.

Last fiscal year California’s public schools, colleges and universities got just over $1.1 billion from lottery ticket sales, according to a report from the California State Lottery. Public schools and community colleges in San Diego County received nearly $85 million.

That meant just over $15 million for San Diego Unified, or about 1.5 percent of the district’s overall budget. Schools are required to spend a portion of lottery revenues on instructional materials like textbooks. At San Diego Unified the remaining money goes into the general fund.

Without a drastic change to the state’s proposed budget for next year that general fund is expected to take a hit of more than $120 million –- a deficit that will remain largely unchanged by the recent Mega Millions ticket-buying craze.

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