|Updated: 11/28/2012 6:16 pm
||Published: 11/28/2012 5:59 pm
What's being described as a national ticket sales frenzy has boosted the record jackpot for Wednesday night's Powerball Lottery drawing to $550 million.
When Oklahoma joined the multi-state Powerball Lottery six years ago people were told it would generate millions of dollars for Oklahoma's education system. And yet the state has seen its school districts get hit with budget cut after cut, causing some to question how much lottery money is really going to the schools.
Of the two dollars paid for one Powerball Lottery ticket, 53.7 percent goes to pay out prizes, 8.8 percent goes to retailer and vendor commissions, 2.5% goes to lottery operations, and the last 35 percent, or about 70 cents, is what goes to education.
In 2012 the Oklahoma Lottery will pay out close to $70 million to the state's education fund. If that sounds like a lot, your opinion might change when you consider that that's only 1.91 percent of the total education budget, which is about $3.4 billion.
But in a year when $106.6 million were cut from school funding, that $70 million offset a good portion of the blow for the schools.
"It was definitely worth it," Tulsan Susan Platt said. "It's sad that [the lottery's] not being able to do quite as much, I guess, as they had hoped."
Platt suggests taking more than 35 percent of the lottery money for education.
"if it was up maybe 50 percent maybe it's enough," she said. "But you never know, because you don't know what [the legislature's] budget stuff is."
Others also thought increasing the percentage of lottery funds to schools was a good idea.
"Another 10 percent, just something like that," Tulsan Chad Warren said.
Warren thinks the increase would pay off.
"I think if we put more money towards education we might have more students graduating, or more students wanting to stay in school," he said.
"Maybe then some of the teachers wouldn't be getting off their jobs," Platt said.
Of course, a recession can take its toll on a state budget, and state lawmakers have argued that's the biggest reason for the education cuts.
Tulsan Rick Peale agrees the schools need more money, but said changing the lottery formula isn't the answer.
"I think the percentage is good," he said. "I think we need to get more people involved in the [lottery]."
Since 2006 the Oklahoma Lottery reports contributions to education totaling about half a billion dollars.