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Eye On Boise

If I had a million dollars, or $10 mil.

There's a lot of "if I won the lottery" talk in Boise these days, what with an unidentified, 30-something Boisean holding a $220.3 million Powerball jackpot ticket. The unnamed winner has to decide whether to take his winnings as a single, $125 million payout (before taxes) all at once, or a 30-year annuity that would total the full $220.3 million, made in equal payments of $7.3 million a year for 30 years.

The winner's not the only one anticipating this decision. If he chooses the lump-sum, Idaho will nab $9.75 million in state income taxes from it, all at once. That's a substantial boost to the state budget. The state would actually get more overall from the annuity option - but it would come in at just over half a million a year for 30 years, making far less of a bump in state finances.

"It would just be receipts that come into the state general fund," said Brad Foltman, Gov. Dirk Kempthorne's budget director. "There are no hooks or strings or anything else that would be included with that. . It would not be designated for any particular thing."

If the money were split up like the rest of the state budget, public schools would get the largest share of the lump-sum payout, about $4.5 million. But lawmakers and the governor decide how to spend the state budget, and there's no telling which way they'd go.

Foltman noted that right now, state revenues are running well ahead of projections and the state's budget is running a surplus. "It seems like we're getting all of the breaks that we wish we could've got one of just a few years ago," he said. "Ten million bucks would've helped dramatically in offsetting some holdback issues we had - but we didn't have it then." Now, he said, "When the luck faucet gets turned on, we're doing good."

Steve Woodall, deputy director of the Idaho Lottery, said the lottery has heard from the winner's attorney, and the winner is still mulling his options. He's Idaho's biggest winner ever, far eclipsing the $18.7 million won by Boisean Eric Kyle this February, and even the $87 million haul Boise's Pam Hiatt collected in 1995. Hiatt, who was in her 20s when she won, called the lottery last night to offer to chat with the latest winner.

"She's a real nice young woman," Woodall said. "She just kind of called to say if he wants to talk to anybody, it's kind of a unique experience, she real graciously said that he can call her and they can talk about what it's like to be young multimillionaires."

Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.