This week begins a four part Raising The Grade series called Betting On Education.
News on 6 reporter Tamara Pratt says you will have the power with your pen as the lottery vote approaches.
A quick fact check reveals the prize pie. 45% of the proceeds goes to lottery winners. 35% is earmarked for education and the 20% left over runs the lottery.
But is it a gamble you're willing to take? It's an American dream, pay a little, win big, but are we making the same assumption with our education system.
The state question you'll vote on in November demands 35-cents of each lottery dollar go to education.
Unidentified Oklahoma resident: "When it comes to things like that you never know where that money goes." Another resident: "I think it needs to be completely earmarked before we ever do the lottery."
The law states 15.75-cents of every dollar would fund K through 12th grade public education, pay and benefits for teachers, as well as early childhood development programs. Another 15.75-cents would go to building construction at schools, technology and scholarships for higher-ed among other things. Money to be spread from kindergarten to college and career tech. The final 3.5-cents of every dollar would pay to help schools consolidate and fund teacher retirement.
"Is that really going to make a difference, oh absolutely. If you think about the amount of people that have left this state in the last 10 years to play lottery to buy lottery tickets in Texas or Kansas or other surrounding states." Pat Hall is the front man for the education lottery campaign. â€œIf you start to realize we could be recapturing upwards of $100-million a year or higher in education dollars that was not a tax, was in fact people willingly paying to do something they enjoyed or hoping to get the American dream. I think it's going to make a significant difference."
So who decides who gets it, and how much? "One of the biggest fallacies people have said in this is that your school district only recovers the amount of money that was sold in your school district, that's not true. This money is going to be pooled statewide and going to be distributed statewide."
But there's no formula for how itâ€™s done. In fact, the fine print says the Oklahoma legislature is the one appropriating the lottery money. It has to go to education; it's money on top of the existing education budget. But with no state formula, that leaves districts, higher-ed, career tech, everyone is having to lobby for their chunk of the pie.
And more fine print indicates the first two years education will really only get 30-cents of every dollar, not 35-cents, in order to repay the costs of getting the lottery up and running.
Next week, the News on 6 will check out what both sides say happens when there is betting on education.