Lottery pays record dividend to schools

EMMETT — The Idaho Lottery Commission presented a big check to Gov. Brad Little on Tuesday afternoon.

Commemorating the lottery’s 34th anniversary, administrators handed over an $82 million dividend, a 12.3% increase from last year and the largest single dividend payment in Idaho’s history.

“The Idaho Lottery makes a difference in every community in Idaho: for our citizens, for our small businesses, and most importantly, where it matters most, in our classrooms,” Little said.

Lottery dividends make up a small piece of the school funding puzzle; this year, Little and legislators agreed to put close to $2.7 billion of state tax money into K-12.

School districts use lottery dividends for building maintenance, repairs, and operational projects. The Wright Brothers Building Co., for example, is wrapping up asbestos abatement and restroom reconstruction on both floors of the 1957-era Emmett Middle School — the former Emmett High School, which is Little’s alma mater.

“They were down to the studs,” Emmett Middle principal Debbie Dawson said. “It was quite a sight to see.”

Little wasn’t the only public figure to accept a check on Tuesday afternoon. Idaho Lottery Commission Chairman Craig Corbett presented state superintendent Debbie Critchfield with $51.25 million — representing the bulk of the overall $82 million dividend.

The $51.25 million goes into two pots of money: $30.75 million for school maintenance and operations projects, and $20.5 million for the SDE’s Bond Levy Equalization Fund, which helps offset the cost of new schools.

“As Idaho’s schools age and costs of maintenance continue to grow, Idaho Lottery funds play a crucial role in ensuring facility safety for our students, staff and patrons,” Critchfield said to attendees.

This includes “Do Good” initiatives, one of Little’s first acts when he took office in 2019. These lottery-funded programs fulfill teaching supplies with “Classroom Wishlists,” library books with “Bucks for Books,” additional resources with “Scratch for Schools.”

“I have seen firsthand the difference the Idaho lottery is making in schools,” Corbett said. “Idaho is a vast, diverse state with many themes. One common theme is providing a quality education. I’m very proud of the contributions the lottery makes each year to benefit and improve and enhance the quality of education for Idaho students.”

In addition to the $51.25 million going to public schools, a $30.75 million dividend will go to the Permanent Building Fund, which bankrolls state facilities and higher education capital projects.

This year’s dividends was sourced by the Idaho Lottery’s largest single sales year, pulling in $422 million in revenue. Of this cash flow, the lottery paid back a record $285.9 million out in prizes and brick and mortar lottery retailers earned a record $24.7 million.


Matt Denis

Matt Denis

Reporter Matt Denis is based in the Treasure Valley and has served as an educator and a journalist. Prior to national digital reporting and founding an arts and culture section in Eugene, Oregon, Matt worked as an English and history teacher in Detroit, San Diego, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. You can send news tips to [email protected].

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