You likely read about Ohio’s record lottery profits this year and the windfall that schools would be expecting. The news articles had some version of the following that appeared in the Dayton Daily News:
The Ohio Department of Education hit the jackpot in the past fiscal year, claiming the largest education payout in state lottery history — $771 million. By law, all lottery profits go to the Ohio Department of Education to support K-12 public schools. The previous record profit transfer of $748.8 million was set in 1997, the Ohio Lottery reported.
Lottery proceeds make up about 6 percent of the department of education’s general revenue fund $7.6 billion budget and carry even more weight in an era of government cutbacks and declining tax revenues in many school districts.
“Every dollar counts, so any money is important money to the department, especially this year,’’ said Patti Grey, a spokeswoman for the department of education.
Not so fast.
This morning, a joint news release by three major Ohio education organizations is setting the record straight. The Buckeye Association of School Administrators, Ohio Association of School Business Officials, and Ohio School Boards Association issued a two-page statement explaining how Governor Kasich is once again playing games with education funding.
“While it is true that all Ohio Lottery profits are used by the state to fund education, the profit from increased sales was simply used to free up other state funds that had previously been set aside for schools, allowing more money to be transferred into the state’s rainy day fund,” said OSBA Executive Director Richard Lewis. “No increase in this year’s funding for school districts will be available as a result of these unexpected profits.”
Another Kasich bait-and-switch. On one day you’ll hear him talking about the record profits, and the next he’s bragging about his ability to magically increase Ohio’s rainy day fund while refusing to restore cuts to local governments and schools.
More from the news release:
For fiscal year 2013, Ohio’s school foundation payment program funding for traditional and community schools will be $7.2 billion. This is the amount established by Gov. John Kasich in his budget adopted in June 2011. The amount will not increase as a result of more lottery profits without action by the governor and the legislature.
To clarify — the adopted budget sets the funding levels for schools. When the lottery profits go to fund schools, the cap remains the same, creating a funding surplus that, instead of remaining in education, returns to the state and, in this case, the Governor’s fund. This is flat-out deception. And while others have called on Kasich to release the rainy day funds to restore cuts, no one has had such a direct claim to the funds until now:
“We urge Gov. Kasich to use this ‘extra’ state money from the increased lottery profits to restore the budget cuts to education that were included in the current state budget,” said OASBO Executive Director David Varda. “It should also be utilized to help fund schools in the future as Gov. Kasich develops a new school-funding formula.
“OSBA, BASA and OASBO will be working diligently to advocate for appropriate funding levels for Ohio schools, including the continued use of Ohio Lottery profits. In the meantime, we want to make it clear that school districts will not see automatic increases in funding as a result of the increase in lottery profits.”
The Governor’s Rainy-Day fund? That’s your child’s money.