In its 32nd year of operation, the Idaho Lottery passed a major milestone Wednesday afternoon, passing the $1 billion mark in dividend returns.
In a ceremony at Nampa’s Iowa Elementary School, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra accepted a check of $45.3 million, a single-year record.
School districts use lottery dividends for building maintenance, repairs, and operational projects. Of the total amount of $45.3 million, districts will receive $27.2 million from the State Department of Education’s School Building Fund, while the remaining $18.1 million will go to the Bond Levy Equalization Fund.
“For more than three decades, the Idaho Lottery has contributed much-needed funds for Idaho school districts across the state to repair and maintain school buildings,” Ybarra said in a news release.
The Iowa Elementary event was staged to showcase how a school has used lottery money in the past. Last summer, the Nampa School District utilized some of its lottery dividends to replace aging HVAC systems.
“Every dollar created by the lottery is a dollar that supports public education for school maintenance projects like here at Iowa Elementary,” said Gov. Brad Little.
The check represents public schools’ dividend from lottery sales, which totaled a record $372 million. The Idaho Lottery returned $72.5 million in dividends Wednesday, a 30.6% increase from last year.
Also receiving money was the Department of Administration, which oversees the Public Works Division. Keith Reynolds, director of the department, accepted a check for $27.2 million.
Idaho Lottery Director Jeff Anderson said the increase over the past year was likely due to the lottery being a “convenient, inexpensive and available entertainment choice to Idahoans.”
Powerball was responsible for just 7% of the lottery sales, but made up 15% of this year’s dividend. The game’s long-term future is in question, however, as some legislators have balked at Idaho joining a multinational game that includes the United Kingdom and Australia.
While the schools’ $45.3 million dividends reflect a record, lottery proceeds still fall well below taxpayer support for K-12. This year, K-12’s general fund budget exceeded $2 billion for the first time in state history.