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Otter welcomes 10th straight record dividend from state lottery

The Idaho Lottery presented its 10th straight record dividend to the state today, handing over $48.2 million from lottery proceeds for the state’s schools and state buildings for the year. “The weather isn’t the only thing that’s hot – your Idaho Lottery is sizzling, too,” said Lottery Director Jeff Anderson. “We just completed our best year in our 24-year history.” Plus, he said, the Lottery’s record “remains unblemished.” Gov. Butch Otter recalled 1989 and 1990, when Idaho voters first approved the lottery amid much controversy. “The biggest concern … was whether or not it would be able to maintain the honesty, the integrity and the value that was suggested in our efforts,” he said. “The citizens gave their trust. … How  proud I am… that integrity has never fallen into question.” He added, “I continue to hear great reports from other states about how well our lottery is operated.”

Checks presented at a ceremony in the governor’s office included $18.075 million each to the state Department of Education and state Permanent Building Fund, and $12.05 million to the bond levy equalization fund, which matches a portion of school districts’ bond repayment costs and marks the largest allocation yet to that fund, which last year got about $7 million. Otter credited current House Speaker Scott Bedke, who proposed the split for the bond fund as a lawmaker in 2009 before he was elected speaker. Said Otter, “I can tell you the folks at the local level utilize this in their financial planning.”

The Idaho Lottery recently saw two million-dollar winning Powerball tickets sold in the state in a week – a highly unusual series of back-to-back big winners. Said Anderson, “You’ve got to be in it to win it, and these folks were.” Otter noted that not only did the state sell tickets to two lucky winners, it also gets income tax on those winnings. That’s true for both the Idaho couple and the Utah resident who won the prizes; the Utahn must pay Idaho income tax on the income that comes from Idaho.

The Idaho Lottery still has 47 employees – the same number it had when it started in 1989. This year’s dividend to the state is 16.1 percent over last year’s, at nearly $7 million more. Otter told lottery officials and their staff, “From a grateful Idaho, thank you.”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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