27 Jan Nebraska Uses Lottery Funds to Better Community
For at least a minute, it seemed that the entire country was enthralled by the historic $1.6 billion of lottery payments up for grabs in the Powerball jackpot lottery. People talked about what they would buy and whether they would take the lump sum versus annuity settlement, which is paid out in 30 increasing lottery payments like the Mega Millions.
In the midst of the excitement however, there were some people voicing their disdain for a system that seemingly takes advantage of the poor and less educated. Many statistics were thrown around and it probably helped shame at least a few people into reconsidering their Powerball ticket.
All state lotteries divide the money they make from lottery ticket sales into education that helps the community, but Nebraska takes special pride in how they use the funding to make their communities better. According to the local Nebraska NBC affiliate Knopnews2.com, $.25 cents of every dollar that gets spent on lottery tickets in the state goes directly to community service programs. Environmental projects are one of the areas at the top of that list.
“Since the start of the Nebraska lottery in 1993, $21 million has been donated to state wide recycling efforts,” said Mona Anderson, Executive Director of Keep North Platte Lincoln County Beautiful. “So it is really a great thing to have that source of funding that we can use for different programs and projects that actually take place locally.”
The Cornhusker State has collected and distributed nearly $581 million total since the Nebraska Lottery officially started in 1993. Voters in the state decided exactly how those funds would be allocated in 2004.
Education alone gets 44.5% of the pie, which is split between the Education Innovation Fund and the Nebraska Opportunity Grant Fund. The Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund gets 44.5%, 10% goes to the Nebraska State Fair Support and Improvement Fund, and the Compulsive Gamblers Assistance Fund receives 1%.
When you consider nearly 70% of jackpot lotto winners lose or spend all of their money within five years, it’s reasonable to argue that lottery purchases actually help people a lot more than winning it does.
In terms of the environmental efforts that are funded by these lottery payments, they’re typically pretty specific.
“They are just for specific programs and projects that we might need in our communities. So usually they are just a one year grant, they’re not ongoing, they kind of help to start a project or get a project going and then those funds are finished,” said Anderson.
Just remember, for every person that quits their job after winning a lottery annuity (about 52%) there are plenty of people who take the opportunity to start developing the next initiative that will help the Nebraska community.