Florida Lottery Money Goes Where It’s Supposed To

An excerpt from the Sun Sentinel and my take on it. Where does all that Florida Lottery money go? | You asked, we answer.

Excerpt: This year, the lottery contributed more than $1.3 billion to education in Florida, but most of that didn’t go to, say, teachers salaries or new textbooks or what have you. And it’s not necessarily supposed to. The lottery was supposed to pay for “educational enhancements” when it first passed in 1986. But what exactly that means was ill-defined. 

In the 2018 budget, about $241 million from the trust fund went to pay off debt from the bonds issued for school construction. Another $467 million went to student aid, the vast majority of it the Bright Futures scholarship program, which is fully funded with lottery money. Another $104 million went to paying for class-size reductions. And $519 million went toward the Florida Educational Finance Program — that’s the per-student funding that most people think of when they think of lottery money as paying for education.

Bottom Line: For as long as I can remember there has been this myth that money from the Florida lottery doesn’t go where it’s supposed to go. And for as long as I can remember that’s been wrong. I most recently addressed this topic in August of last year. On back of this Sun-Sentinel story here’s the updated information about where the money goes and how much South Florida receives. 

Here's how Florida distributes lottery money according to the latest filings from the Florida Lottery:  

  • 63.8% paid to winners 
  • 27.9% education 
  • 5.6% to retailers 
  • 1.4% to ticket vendors 
  • 1.3% admin fees

So, 77% of the proceeds for Florida still go directly to education within the state.  

Last year these were the actual dollars that went from the Florida lottery to SFL education:  

  • Broward: $60.8 million 
  • Miami-Dade: $123.7 million 
  • Palm Beach: $57.1 million 

There’s no conspiracy here, just the lottery money being distributed the way that it’s supposed to be distributed. Throughout its history here’s how much money has gone to the tri-county area for education:  

  • Broward: $2.5 billion 
  • Miami-Dade: $4 billion 
  • Palm Beach: $1.9 billion

Photo by: Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

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