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A man holds a bundle of Mega Millions lottery tickets that he just purchased, San Francisco, 2007.
Although the odds are 1 in 175 million to win tonight's Mega Millions jackpot which currently looms at $640 million dollars, there is one sure bet: California schools will be receiving about $100 million if someone wins today.
According to the LA Times, the Golden State has sold over 283 million tickets for the world-record setting jackpot that has been rolling over since January. Elias Dominguez, the California Lottery spokesman told the Times that about 30% of each dollar goes to schools.
Indeed, since 1985 lotteries have brought in over $24 billion to California K-12 schools, community colleges, Cal States, UC's, other public colleges and universities, and other educational institutions. Nearly $272 million was sent from the lottery to schools (the vast majority was allotted to K-12 schools) in the 4th quarter of 2011.
With all that easy money flowing in, why are schools continually finding themselves having to cut programs and lay off teachers?
"Because instead of using the money as additional funding, legislatures have used the lottery money to pay for the education budget and spent the money that would have been used had there been no lottery cash on other things. Public school budgets, as a result, haven’t gotten a boost because of the lottery funding," wrote Valerie Strauss of in the Washington Post.
And what's more dire, according to the Times, is that the K-12 expenditures are projected to exceed $39 billion this year. Therefore, although the $100 million will be a nice contribution to schools, it's really just a drop in the bucket to the budget.