Lottery Revenue and Public School Funding

Adopted January 2009 – Reviewed and deemed relevant May 2020 – Education Commission

California State PTA neither supports nor opposes the use of gambling or gaming to raise funds for the state’s public schools. PTA does recognize that promoters of gaming programs capitalize on the market advantages of linking their gaming enterprises with public education. PTA also recognizes that revenue from the California State Lottery, enacted by a voter-approved initiative in 1984, reinforces a misconception among a significant portion of the voting public that education is “fully-funded” or “taken care of” by the State Lottery, although the Lottery has never contributed more than two percent of California’s statewide funding for education. Further, PTA acknowledges that public schools have come to rely on revenue generated by the State Lottery, but believes lottery funds allocated to public schools must be used to supplement, never to supplant, the state’s financial obligation to education. Lottery funds should never be used for ongoing expenditures and should always be treated as an annual infusion of one-time only funds.

PTA believes any effort to reform or modify the State Lottery should be guided by the principle of protecting education funding and holding it harmless. Any effort to modify the Lottery as part of a State Budget reform should be rational, transparent, and guided by the principle of fiscal responsibility.

PTA opposes efforts to:

  • Mandate the purpose for which lottery funds may be spent, other than those purposes contained in the original voter-approved ballot measure, or approved by the State Legislature in conformity with provisions of the ballot measure;
  • Divert lottery revenues to any purpose other than public education without identifying another source of revenue for schools to replace lost lottery funds;
  • Change the formula for determining the percentage of lottery revenues allocated to school districts if the change would mean a lower percentage of revenues allocated to public schools; or
  • Change the method of allocating lottery revenues other than directly from the State Controller’s Office to local school districts.

Finally, California State PTA believes that funding public education is an important and noble goal, and a shared public responsibility best accomplished by non-regressive tax policies that include concepts that would provide sufficient revenues to fund quality education programs.

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