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Powerball to contribute funds to Florida educational system

The state educational system is finding financial relief in a new twist on the classic lottery system.

With jackpots of more than $100 million, Florida Powerball will donate 40 percent of its revenue to help the struggling Florida educational system, said Shelly Safford, Lottery spokeswoman.

“We expect to generate millions in revenue (with Powerball) that we will, in turn, transfer to education,” Safford said.

The money goes to the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund (EETF), which is used to fund the Bright Futures Scholarship Program, she said.

Florida officially became the 30th state to join a multi-state gaming system Jan. 4, after several days of heavy advertising, Safford said.

“Florida was the only state lottery in the country that wasn’t part of a multi-state lottery system such as the Mega Millions or Powerball, so we had been planning this for a while now,” she said.

Powerball sold more than $7.7 million between Jan. 4 and Jan. 7. Of that, at least $3.5 million will go to the EETF.

The $3.5 million will be spent according to what the U.S. Department of Education recommends the U.S. legislature spend it on, Safford said.

The EETF also funds K-12 schools and community colleges around Florida.

With the jackpot up to $120 million last Saturday, people are excited, Safford said.

“It is generating a lot of buzz in the community, even with people that haven’t ever played the lottery before,” she said. “That is what the possibility of winning over $100 million can do to you.”

Students and teachers at USF have diverging opinions about how much the Powerball is really doing to cure what ails the Florida educational system.

“There probably should be a change in who funds schools. I’m tired of the budget cuts and programs being taken away,” said Anthony Iannelli, a junior majoring in physical education. “I mean, it’s good that the lottery contributes toward Bright Futures, but it isn’t stopping tuition increases, which seems impossible to do at the moment because of the economy.”
 
Amanda Baker, a psychology and philosophy major, said she believes the end justifies the means as long as money comes into schools.

“I don’t care how we get the money — as long as it is not too immoral and it funds education properly, I definitely support it,” she said.

John Kieffer, religious studies graduate teaching assistant, proposed a new system to raise money for education.

“I would go after the people that are the biggest beneficiaries of the funding — not the single mother buying a lottery ticket at the supermarket,” Kieffer said. “I would tax the individuals that are the beneficiaries of the educational process, the institutions that benefit from graduating lawyers and doctors, and the lawyers and doctors themselves.”

Kieffer’s idea centers on the premise that colleges and universities profit from having distinguished alumni such as recognized doctors and lawyers, so they should give back to the community.

“I know Florida doesn’t tax for services, but maybe we could create a special kind of tax,” Kieffer said. “Every time a doctor performs a surgery, tax that doctor’s medical school. If an attorney wins a $100 million case, guess how he got there — through law school, so tax the law school that he went to.”