FAIRBANKS — Sen. Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, is betting Alaskans will spend some of their Permanent Fund dividends on a lottery for which most of the proceeds go to public education.
Senate Bill 78, introduced Monday, would create the Permanent Fund Education Lottery and Education Endowment Fund.
Under Bishop’s proposal, Alaskans could donate part or all of their dividends in $100 increments, similar to the Pick.Click.Give program.
Five percent of the proceeds would be split among four winners whose names would be drawn. The rest of the money would go to public education and lottery administration.
“I am trying to solidify Alaska’s education funding stream going beyond oil,” Bishop said. “It could go a long way toward plugging a big hole in the education budget.”
Eight other senators, all in the Senate Republican majority, are co-sponsors.
A quarter of the lottery proceeds would go to an Education Endowment Fund, which Bishop said would be operated like the Power Cost Equalization Endowment.
A clause in the Alaska Constitution prohibits the Legislature from dedicating public funds, but Bishop said he thinks voters, in time, would favor a change of the Constitution to enshrine an education endowment fund.
Bishop ran some numbers. If 350,000 people donated $100 each, $17.5 million would go to the state general fund for public education.
A little more than $8.7 million would be divided equally between the lottery fund — the winnings — and the endowment fund.
Only 20 percent of the lottery fund could be spent on cash prizes.
Residents would need to be 18 or older to enter the drawing. Only money from a resident’s Permanent Fund dividend could be used to play the lottery.
Most other states have lotteries, but only 15 of them spend most or all of the money on education, according to a report by CNN.
Alaskans donate millions through the Pick.Click.Give program. An aide to Bishop said he thought an education endowment could draw money away from the more than 600 organizations that benefit from Pick.Click.Give.
Gross receipts from charitable gaming in Alaska reportedly exceed $300 million.
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7587. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/FDNMborough.