In her Dec. 9 letter, 25 years of winners in Florida, Cynthia O’Connell, secretary of the Florida Lottery, boasts that the lottery now provides $255 million in prizes to players and $21 million in bonuses to retailers each month and $26 billion for education since 1988.
First, since payouts average 70 percent of wagers, she is saying that $364 million is collected from bettors each month, $109 million of which they never recover. Second, even with the lottery, Florida’s spending on education has declined from 32.6 percent of the budget in FY 1988-1989 to 28.5 percent in FY 2009-2010, even with lottery funds included. That represents a $5 billion reduction in education in just one year.
The lottery has done nothing for education, except give the Florida Legislature a facade behind which to hide a 25-year history of cutting education funding. As the Herald correctly notes in the same issue, Gov. Scott and the Legislature have funneled millions of dollars in taxpayer revenues to out-of-state companies that could have been spent on our schools. Pretending to add lottery funds to Florida education while reducing education funding overall is nothing but political sleight of hand.
James L. Wilson, Plantation