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Where does Montana Lottery revenue go?

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Posted at 11:56 AM, Apr 29, 2024

In the video above, Marian Davidson takes a look at where the revenue from the Montana Lottery goes.

Schools across Montana are facing budget shortfalls—with that in mind, viewer Candace Stout asked if Montana Lottery revenue is used for public schools in the state. MTN found out the answer is a little more complicated than just yes or no.

The Montana Lottery was created by voters in 1986, and for its first three years, revenue that was not used for prizes and lottery operations went into the Teachers’ Retirement Fund, lawmakers redirected the revenue to the Montana Office of Public Instruction.

In 1995, lawmakers again decided to redirect lottery net revenue to the state’s general fund.

“This past fiscal year, we brought in $147 million in total revenue,” the Montana Lottery marketing and sales director said.

Of that $147 million, $22.7 million went into the state general fund and $2 million went to Montana’s STEM/Healthcare Scholarship Program.

Each legislative session, lawmakers pass a two-year state budget bill. For fiscal years 23 and 24, the budget bill appropriates $4.2 billion for the state general fund—the $22.7 million contributed is about one percent of the general fund for the fiscal year.

Money in the general fund is available for all government purposes, and spending it is determined by the legislature. That money can go to a lot of different things, including education, public safety and health and human services.

“That’s all determined by our legislature,” Charpentier said. “They determine where the money goes, that is all their decision to be made.”

There is a portion of Montana Lottery net revenue that definitely goes to education—the money that goes to Montana’s STEM/Healthcare Scholarship Program. The scholarships are awarded to students pursuing degrees in STEM or health care at a Montana University System campus. The Montana Lottery is set to contribute $2.25 million to the scholarship program in FY24.

“We are very proud of being part of this program, being able to contribute to this program,” Charpentier said.