JUNEAU – Sen. Click Bishop (R-Fairbanks) introduced a bill today that would allow Alaskans to voluntarily sign up for a lottery to fund education – and possibly win big money – when they send in their annual application for the Permanent Fund dividend.
“Senate Bill 78 would set up an education lottery as a fun way to raise money for a good cause – supporting education in Alaska – without having to enact any new taxes,” Sen. Bishop said. “It is a new, voluntary approach to help solve Alaska’s fiscal problems and address concerns about education funding.”
Statewide surveys show that more than 65 percent of Alaskans support current levels or an increase in education funding. The bill creates a new revenue stream for education in a multi-layered structure, while providing a lottery drawing. First, half of the proceeds would go directly to the state’s annual education budget. Second, one-quarter of the proceeds would go into an endowment that – after it grows to $1 billion – would spin off income to the education budget. The final one-quarter would go into an endowment to grow the prizes, and 20 percent of percent of that piece would be used for prizes.
Alaskans can dedicate all or part of their Permanent Fund dividend, in $100 chances, to enter the lottery and support education. The bill structures the check-off in a manner similar to the familiar “Pick. Click. Give.” program (no relation to the prime sponsor).
“Alaskans have a long history of involvement with games of chance and gambling, going back to the gold rushes of the 1800s,” Sen. Bishop said. “I think this bill taps into that sentiment to secure education funding for Alaska’s children, into the future, after the oil runs dry.”
Under current law, there are many games of chance exempted from Alaska’s gambling laws. Raffles, lotteries, bingo games, race classics, fishing classics, deep-freeze classics, Calcutta pools, and big bull derbies are but a few.
The bill was referred to the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.
For more information, contact Peter Fellman in Senator Bishop’s office at (907) 465-3613.
Editor’s Note: This bill also sponsored by one of our local legislators – Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-District F, which covers parts of Peters Creek, Chugiak and Eklutna as well as Palmer. Daniel McDonald is the communications director for the Alaska Senate Majority.