Pre-K students at Seaborn Lee Elementary say the "Pre-K pledge" for Georgia first lady Sandra Deal and Bobby Cagle, commissioner of Ga. Department of Early Care and Learning.
Photo: Bob Andres
Photo: Bob Andres

Georgia Lottery raises a record $1 billion for education

The Georgia Lottery raised more than $1 billion last year for the state’s pre-kindergarten program and HOPE scholarships for college students, the first time ever in the lottery’s 23-year history it has crossed the “B” mark in profits for a single year.

Gov. Nathan Deal announced the milestone Wednesday, as the lottery closed the books on fiscal 2016, which ended June 30. In all, the lottery raised about $1.1 billion, with profits exceeding last year’s by more than $117 million.

This is the fifth-consecutive year lottery profits have set a record, a positive trend that comes as the lottery has strained to meet the needs of popular education programs that continue to grow. State lawmakers over the last several years have considered additional revenue streams including casino gambling and horse race betting to boost lottery proceeds, although both efforts remain stalled.

Deal, who opposed the push to expand gambling in Georgia, said he hoped Wednesday’s news eased those concerns.

“This result this year indicates that we have a pretty good balance,” Deal said. “Our lottery continues to grow and continues to be successful and if you start tinkering with it too much you could have an undesirable outcome. I hope this year’s revenue growth will give us confidence we’re doing the right thing.”

The lottery has returned more than $17.6 billion to the state for education since its first year in 1993, according to state officials. The contributions have funded pre-K for more than 1.4 million four-year-old’s and HOPE awards for more than 1.7 million college, university and technical college students.

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