Idaho schools received a $30.3 million check from the Idaho Lottery Thursday.
The dividends — $30,312,500, to be exact — represent the schools’ share from 2016-17 ticket sales of about $240 million.
The proceeds still represent but a sliver of Idaho’s school funding. The K-12 system will receive close to $1.7 billion in sales and income tax revenues in 2017-18 — and that doesn’t count the hundreds of millions of dollars schools collect in local property taxes.
But state officials and lottery administrators celebrated the dividends during a ceremony in Gov. Butch Otter’s office Thursday afternoon. Lottery director Jeff Anderson said the state is nearing a milestone; since its inception in 1989, the lottery has awarded nearly $800 million in dividends for schools and state buildings.
“That’s quite a feat,” said Lt. Gov. Brad Little, who stood in for Otter Thursday.
The lottery money does not go into salaries and benefits, but instead goes to one-time capital projects. About $18 million goes into a fund school districts can tap into for repairs and improvements. The remaining $12 million goes into the state’s Bond Levy Equalization Fund, which is designed to mitigate some of the cost of building bond issues in rural and poorer school districts.
All told, the lottery awarded $48.5 million in dividends Thursday, including a separate, $18.2 million dividend for Idaho’s Permanent Building Fund.
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The schools’ lottery dividend is down from the record $30.9 million received in 2015-16. But ticket sales — and the resulting dividends — were inflated by one $1.5 billion Powerball drawing. The state lottery anticipated a dropoff in Powerball ticket sales in 2016-17, and Anderson said a boost in scratch ticket sales offset this loss.
Dividends for 2016-17 still beat lottery projections by $500,000, Anderson said.