Powerball Record Jackpot at $1.9 Billion: Where does the $1 Billion in Tax Revenue Go?

There were no winners in this last Powerball lottery, so the jackpot increased to $1.9 billion dollars. That makes it the biggest lottery in US history and will likely exceed $2 billion by the time of the drawing. Someone will become an instant billionaire, whenever the winning numbers are chosen. Most people dream of winning that kind of money and living a financially carefree life but 99.99% of those people will be disappointed. I am less concerned about the winner(s) however, than what happens to the enormous tax bill.

When New York State started the lottery in 1967, the government claimed that all of the revenue would go towards education. However, in the decades since the lottery started, no one has ever been transparent with how the dollars are spent. When I attended public school in New York City fifty years ago, a letter went home to all our parents asking for donations so that the teachers could purchase supplies. Class sizes exceeded forty, and kids would share some of the books because there weren’t enough for everyone.

Fifty years later, we still hear the same exact narrative. There’s no money, please send supplies etc. However, there are now dozens of lotteries in New York today and the lottery jackpots have grown precipitously. But the situation in our schools keeps deteriorating. Nothing improves and the downslide continues. How is that possible? One might say that it’s mismanagement and government failure to put the money to best use.

With this record Powerball lottery, the tax split is 47 ways, (45 States, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands), based on Powerball participation. It will mean over $21 million per state. Twenty-Seven of those states claim that 100% of the lottery tax revenue goes directly to education. If that’s the case, then schools throughout the country stand to benefit from just this one drawing. I recognize that it’s the largest Powerball ever. But if you added up all of the lotteries, including Powerball, the sum is in the billions.

Every American should be holding their state governments to account. The money going towards education should be completely transparent. What does 100% of the money going to education mean in my home New York? Does it mean buying textbooks and other supplies? Breakfast for every student in need? Sports equipment? Or is some of that money going towards teacher pensions and into bureaucrats’ pockets. We do know that after expenses, (marketing, paying retailers, salaries, etc.) in 2021, $3.6 billion went directly to education in New York State from the lotteries. But again, no breakdown. We need and should demand, specifics.

I have tried, without success to find a detailed report by school, by district etc. and was unable to uncover anything. With all of the shortages in education, logic and common-sense points to a problem, that needs to be addressed. I’m going to continue to research lottery money allocations and update this post if and when I discover any concrete information. But between the NY state education budget allocation of $38 Billon dollars in 2022-2023 and lottery money, there should be ample funds to expect schools to satisfactorily educate our children. We know from the most recent test scores, that public school children, partially due to the pandemic, (although students were underperforming prior to the pandemic) are now woefully under-performing and that’s completely unacceptable. It’s not about lacking revenue but rather incompetent leadership.

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