Is the Florida Lottery the key to raising teacher pay in Florida?
Bottom Line: Two things you can almost certainly count on in the debate over teacher pay. Whatever the increase is, it’ll never be enough to satisfy the union and many Floridians will wonder why the Florida Lottery doesn’t send more money to education. The teacher’s union’s less than thrilled response to a proposed huge increase in teacher pay by Governor DeSantis is rhetorical. The Florida Lottery being able to account for more money for teacher pay isn’t. Over the years, I’ve received numerous questions about where the Florida Lottery money really goes. The answer isn’t a conspiracy, it really is education in Florida. Here’s the breakout of how money is allocated from the lottery:
- 65% paid to winners
- 27% education
- 6% to retailers
- 1% to ticket vendors
- 1% admin fees
More than three-quarters of the money (77%) that isn’t paid out to the winners goes to education in the state with the rest simply being the cost of operating the lottery. It’s over a billion dollars per year that’s sent to education statewide. As for where that money specifically goes – directly to school districts. Statewide South Florida easily benefits the most. Miami-Dade receives the most at nearly $124 million most recently. Broward’s second with around $61 million and Palm Beach County fourth, at just over $57 million. Enter the teacher pay debate. Proponents of substantially higher teacher pay are now discussing the possibility of opening Florida Lottery money. If you’re wondering why it’d potentially be controversial to consider teacher pay increases from lottery money... It’s likely not currently legal in Florida and would require a change in Florida law.
Under Florida law, lottery money is to be used to improve education in our state. Language was specific for the purpose of improvement to ensure lottery funds wouldn’t be used as a funding mechanism leading to the reallocation of existing resources away from education. Should the lottery be seriously considered for teacher pay, it could pit school districts against the teacher's unions. It’s all but certain the local school districts would like to keep the flow of Florida lottery funds as is rather than diverting for teacher raises. It’s certain that if the unions can gain access to Florida Lottery funds to increase pay, they’ll do it? So, what do you think the right answer is...keep lottery money flowing to local school districts as is or act, perhaps changing Florida law, to reallocate funds for higher teacher pay? Those are now big questions.