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Letter: Not a sure bet for New Hampshire schools

Anyone hoping for a casino to fund public schools and provide property tax relief should review the performance of the New Hampshire Lottery.

The Lottery Commission is advertising that it has produced $1.5 billion for schools, but that’s over a period of almost 50 years. Local taxes contributed that much revenue to K-12 public education last year alone.

Looking at the websites of the Lottery Commission and the Department of Education, it’s easy to see what produces revenue for schools. Here’s the calculation for 2012: K-12 total net revenue, $2,826,020,410; local property taxes, 55.5 percent ($1,571,663,639); state “equitable funding aid,” including the statewide property tax, 33.3 percent ($939,657,401); lottery 2.36 percent ($66,768,050). Federal and other funds make up the whole.

Instead of “a lotta dough,” as the man in the Lottery Commission ad says, the New Hampshire Lottery has contributed an almost negligible portion of K-12 revenue.

SB 152, the current bill to make casino gambling legal, does not dedicate all the revenue it may generate to education as the lottery does. The distribution formula for casino revenues is complicated, with a greater portion destined for higher education and the Department of Transportation.

The bottom line? Don’t look to gambling to provide property tax relief by contributing significantly to K-12 funding. And with gambling, no matter how many dollars are promised, there’s no sure thing.

CAROL BACKUS

Manchester

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