Arizona Lottery doesn’t directly fund education

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Gov. Doug Ducey said investment in teacher salaries has increased 9 percent since 2015. Is he right? AZ Fact Check takes a look.

As educators, parents and the public focus on school funding, a consistent question has emerged.

What happened to all the Arizona Lottery money that’s supposed to be going directly to K-12 education?

The short answer: It doesn’t existand never did.

Here’s the longer answer: 

Lottery revenue

Since the Arizona Lottery’s launch on July 1, 1981, its sales revenue has totaled about $12 billion, with about $3.7 billion of that directed back into state funds and programs.

The rest of the money is spent on prizes, commissions for retailers and running the Lottery.

Neither voters nor lawmakers ever created a state law requiring any of the lottery revenue to go directly into K-12 education. 

Who decides

Arizona voters and the Legislature dictate how lottery revenue is spent. Over the past 37 years, voters and lawmakers have set conflicting goals.

Voters have indicated they wanted the revenue to fund state parks, transit projects and social-service programs.

Starting during the Great Recession and continuing once it ended, state leaders have swept more and more lottery revenue into the general fund. More lottery revenue overall has gone to the general fund than to support specific programs. 

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