Ucci bill would direct lottery funds to education
STATE HOUSE – There’s an urban legend in Rhode Island that the revenue generated by the Rhode Island Lottery was originally supposed to be earmarked for education, but that sometime since, it was snatched away from schools and redirected to the state’s General Fund.
In fact, when the state lottery first approved by voters in 1973, it was intended to generate revenue to make up for the revenue lost by exempting the value of traded-in automobiles from sales tax liability on new automobiles. While a lottery committee of a constitutional convention held the same year discussed the possibility of earmarking proceeds for education, the committee ultimately voted against recommending it be earmarked it for anything at all.
And yet, ask Rhode Islanders where they think the money is supposed to go, and many will tell you they believe the lottery was created to fund education.
Rep. Stephen R. Ucci has filed legislation to make that perception reality.
“It’s not a bad idea for the lottery to support education. People would feel better about the money they spend on lottery tickets going to a good cause, and, regardless of the misconception about the lottery’s original purpose, it doesn’t do our state any good if people believe their money has been somehow misdirected. Many Rhode Islanders believe we should earmark our lottery funds for education, and doing so could strengthen Rhode Islanders’ faith in their state government as well as bolstering education,” said Representative Ucci (D-Dist. 42, Johnston, Cranston). “Maybe we’d also generate a little more revenue if people knew their lottery purchases would support schools.”
His bill (2016-H 7881) would create a restricted-receipt account into which revenue from the lottery would be placed. Payments would be made from that account to cities and towns as education aid.
Representative Ucci said, regardless of whether the bill passes the General Assembly, he is interested in bringing up the issue to start a conversation among legislators about the notion of directing lottery receipts to education.
“It’s an idea worth discussing,” he said.
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903