Bill looks to fund education with raffle

The Alaska Senate is recruiting lady luck to help fund education with a raffle that residents can enter using their Permanent Fund Dividends.

Senate Bill 78 would allow Alaskans 18 and older to donate all or part of their PFD check to fund education. For every $100 donated, the resident receives one entry in the raffle.

“Alaskans can donate all or part of their Permanent Fund Dividend in a manner similar to the familiar ‘Pick. Click. Give.’ program. When they help raise money for education through a donation from their PFD check, they also have a chance to win a percentage of the total money donated through an education lottery,” said Sen. Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, in his sponsor’s statement.

Of the donations received, half is put directly towards the state’s education budget “for use that year,” Bishop said in a phone interview Tuesday.

A quarter of the funds would be put into an education endowment fund, also created by SB 78. If and when the endowment reaches $1 billion , the investment earnings will be used for the education budget as well, according the the bill.

The final 25 percent would be put into a dividend raffle fund. Each year, 5 percent of this fund would be used to award four prize winners. When the balance of the dividend raffle fund exceeds $500 million, it overflows into the education endowment fund.

“When the (education endowment) reaches $1 billion, it will start spinning off into the education budget. The lottery fund… when it hits half a billion, it’ll spin off a dividend into the endowment. This thing will just keep paying vertical,” Bishop said.

Bishop introduced the bill March 6. It passed the Senate on Friday, 19-1 and was referred to the House Finance Committee on Saturday.

According to Bishop’s statement, a statewide survey shows that 60 percent of Alaskans believe education needs more or continued levels of state funding.

“I appreciate that the Legislature is trying to be creative, but education is a responsibility of all citizens in this state and should be supported as such,” said Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Superintendent Sean Dusek via email on Tuesday.

Currently, education is the largest single expense in the state’s Unrestricted General Fund budget. The Senate has proposed a 5 percent cut to the base student allocation, amounting to a $69 million dollar cut, in order to close the state’s $3 billion defecit.

“I’m trying to just put another tool in the toolbox. I get tons of correspondence saying, ‘Please take my PFD, please tax me (for education),’” Bishop said. “I’m looking out at the next 25 to 50 years because I want to use our renewable resource and that is the earnings of our money set up as an endowment.”

According to projections from Bishop’s office, in the first year of the raffle, if 50,000 participants donate an average of $200, the public education fund would receive a $5 million deposit and both the education endowment and lottery funds would receive $2.5 million. The four prizes would range from $24,500 to $196,000 for a total prize payout of $367,500.

Alaska does not have a state lottery, but Bishop said that 15 other states utilize a lottery system to fund education.

“We listened to people that had concerns with the idea of a lottery and what not, and we took those thoughts to heart and made it a raffle. That’s what it is, essentially, a bucket raffle,” Bishop said.

Bishop is the primary sponsor of the bill. Senators Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla, Natasha von Imhof, R-Anchorage, Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, joined Bishop as bill sponsors later.

If the bill becomes law, it would go into effect January 1, 2018.

Reach Kat Sorensen at kat.sorensen@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Gary Porter, owner of Bald Mountain Air Service, stands in front of his Twin Otter airplane Friday, Oct. 22. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
City Council passes aircraft flat tax rate

The Homer City Council held a public hearing for Ordinance 21-62 concerning a flat tax on aircrafts.

Amelie Bignell, of Soldotna, drops a treat in the bucket of Hayden Jones, of Soldotna, on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, at a “trunk-or-treat” event at Orca Theatre on Kalifornsky Beach Road in Alaska. Jones was dressed as Vampirina. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
All Halloween all weekend

A sinister performance, pumpkin carving contest, food drive, pet microchip event and multiple trick-or-treats are on the docket.

Bill Elam (center) nominates Brent Hibbert to be president of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Johnson elected assembly president; Hibbert to be vice president

Prior to Tuesday, Johnson, who represents Kasilof, served as the assembly’s vice president.

Homer Senior Citizen Center residents participated in a worldwide Televeda bingo event to set a Guinness world record on Friday, Oct. 22. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Homer senior citizens help break world record

The game was held to fight against social isolation in senior communities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. (CDC)
State hospitalizations still on the rise

Despite a decrease in cases, the state is still seeing hospitalization surge.

The Seward welcome sign is photographed in July 2021. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Seward vice mayor and council member resigns

The council accept the resignation of Tony Baclaan during its Monday night meeting.

Ben Mohr watches Kenai River Junior Classic participants head out to fish on the Kenai River in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)
Mohr resigns as director of KRSA

He has been the executive director of KRSA for nearly three years.

Heather and Hunter Phillips walk through the Kenai Community Library Haunted Hunt with their mom Kumi Phillips on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Scary reads

Spooky literary characters come to life at Kenai library haunted house.

Most Read