Where the Money Goes
Let’s play for...raising more than $2.4 Billion for Minnesota
Every time you play the Minnesota State Lottery, you give back to Minnesota. It’s true! For every $1 spent on lottery tickets, approximately 24¢ goes to our great state. Over the years, players have helped the Lottery raise more than $2.4 billion — and this number grows every day!
And since Lottery revenue is directed to the General Fund and the Minnesota environment, we all benefit. A little over half of the money from ticket sales has gone into the General Fund to support services like K-12 education, health care, aid to local governments and public safety. The rest of the revenue, more than $950 million, has helped the environment in many ways through the following funds: (1) the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, (2) the Natural Resources Fund, and (3) the Game and Fish Fund.
From our blog:
When you think of school, what comes to mind? You probably think of a traditional classroom setting with desks and a teacher lecturing in front of students.
What if education went beyond the classroom and placed students in their local communities as a backdrop to learning?
Como Regional Park in St. Paul is Minnesota’s most visited park—attracting nearly 2 million people annually.
Steps away from the Park’s more well known attractions is an 18-acre natural area that Lottery proceeds helped to revitalize through an Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund grant: the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom.
Where does the Lottery money go?
In northeastern Minnesota, the Mesabi Trail acts as a recreational path and alternate transportation source for hikers, bikers, skiers, horseback riders, and more— spanning 145 miles when the project is complete. Currently, the St. Louis and Lake Counties Regional Railroad Authority is working to complete 11 miles near Vermillion State Park east of Soudan toward Ely. This project is projected to be complete by the end of June 2017.
University of Minnesota Invasive Species Center
Minnesota faces many challenges that come from aquatic invasive species. The problems posed by aquatic invasive species continue to grow as existing infestations expand and new exotic species arrive, most of which are poorly understood. New ideas and approaches are needed to develop real solutions. To help better understand and combat these invasive species, the University of Minnesota has been awarded over $8 million to develop and support an aquatic invasive species research center that will develop new techniques to control aquatic invasive species, including Asian carp, zebra mussels, and plant species.
Minnesota Breeding Bird Atlas
A bird atlas is an all-encompassing report of bird species in every region of the state. The atlas is used for numerous purposes, including planning for habitat protection, developing conservation plans, and acting as a resource for bird watchers. Minnesota is only one of seven states to produce such a document. Audubon, Minnesota has received funding for two years to produce the atlas, including $300,000 in its most recent year. The atlas is available free of charge for download on the Minnesota Breeding Bird Atlas Project website.
Enhancing Pollinator Landscapes
Pollinators play an essential role in the agricultural ecosystem. Today, the pollinator population is on the decline for reasons that are not completely understood. The University of Minnesota is using $864,000 to conduct research, increase nectar and pollen for pollinators, and enhance pollinator habitat and opportunities for pollinator nesting and foraging. This is the second time the University of Minnesota has received funding for this project.
Minnesota Biological Survey
In 1987, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources began an ongoing effort known as the Minnesota Biological Survey (MBS) that surveys the state’s natural habitats county by county. To date, surveys have been completed in 81 of Minnesota's 87 counties and nearly 20,000 records of rare features have been recorded. MBS data is used by all levels of government in natural resource planning and decision making, including prioritization of protection of parklands and scientific and natural areas. To date, the DNR has received $2,650,000 to complete this ongoing project.
Soudan Mine Microbes
Once an active mine, the Soudan Iron Mine near Ely, Minnesota, is now part of a state park and houses a physics lab at the bottom of the mine. The mine contains an extreme environment in the form of an ancient and very salty brine bubbling up from a half-mile below the Earth's surface through holes drilled when the mine was active. Scientists from the University of Minnesota will use $838,000 to continue to study this unique ecosystem and its organisms and build upon findings from a previous Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund project.
Scientific and Natural Areas Restoration, Enhancement and Citizen Engagement
Minnesota's Scientific and Natural Areas (SNA) Program is an effort to preserve and perpetuate the state's ecological diversity and ensure that no single rare feature is lost from any region of the state. This includes landforms, fossil remains, plant and animal communities, rare and endangered species, and other unique biotic or geological features. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is using $1,500,000 to conduct restoration and enhancement activities on approximately 1,600 acres in existing SNAs and to increase citizen and student knowledge and skills pertaining to ecological restoration.
Metro Conservation Corridors
Though many parts of the Twin Cities metropolitan area are urbanized, there are also large areas of natural lands that continue to serve as important habitat for fish, wildlife, and plant communities. However, pressure on these remaining lands continues to intensify as population and development pressures increase. The Metro Conservation Corridors (MeCC) is using $2,000,000 to conduct strategic and coordinated land protection, restoration, and enhancement activities that build connections between remaining high quality natural areas in the greater Twin Cities metropolitan area.
Frogtown Farm and Park
The Frogtown area of St. Paul is a culturally diverse, low-income neighborhood that has less green space per child than any other neighborhood in the city and was recently identified as an area in need of a new park. A $1,500,000 appropriation is being used by The Trust for Public Land to acquire a portion of twelve acres of a currently vacant space in the area to establish the multi-purpose Frogtown Farm and Park.
Minnesota Junior Master Naturalist Program
Children are spending increasingly less time outdoors, which has implications for children's health as well as their knowledge about science, the environment, and the world. In order to help reverse this trend, the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are using $365,000 to expand an after-school program that provides outdoor, science-based educational opportunities for fourth and fifth grade students, particularly in underserved areas, to learn about the ecology and natural history of their schoolyards, neighborhoods, nearby natural areas, and the state.
Pollinator Education Center at the MN Landscape Arboretum
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is using $615,000 to implement educational efforts designed to raise awareness about pollinators, their role in the environment and the economy, and the challenges they currently face due to recent unprecedented decline. Exhibits, programming, and demonstration sites will explore the role of pollinators in plant reproduction, maintaining biodiversity, and supporting agriculture and provide guidance on actions individuals can take, such as with their landscaping choices, to help pollinators.
Trout Stream Assessment
Minnesota has more than 680 designated trout streams that represent a valuable natural resource. This resource is under threat from climate change, which will likely increase stream temperatures and could detrimentally impact trout behavior, reproduction success, and food sources. The University of Minnesota's Department of Entomology will use $300,000 to study the health of trout streams in southeastern Minnesota and how changes in stream temperatures could impact the diets and growth of trout populations.
Brown’s Creek Trail
Privately owned lands exist within the designated boundaries of state parks throughout Minnesota. Purchase of these lands from willing landowners makes them permanently available for public recreation and enjoyment and creates more efficient management. The commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources is using $3,000,000 to acquire a number of land properties, including 64 acres to construct 6.5 miles of the Brown's Creek Segment of the Willard Munger State Trail in Washington County.
Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund
Each year, the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund receives 40 percent of Lottery net proceeds, or about 6 cents of every dollar spent on lottery tickets. The 2013 Legislature appropriated $38.4 million to 47 projects based on recommendations by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). These funds became available to the projects on July 1, 2013. Project completion dates vary from two to four years. Since inception in 1991, the Trust Fund has provided almost $360 million to more than 800 projects around the state.
Lottery contributions to the Trust Fund totaled $34 million in fiscal year 2013. The remaining 60 percent of net proceeds is allocated to the state General Fund to pay for programs related to public education, health and human services, and public safety, among others. Additionally, an in-lieu-of-sales tax on lottery tickets contributed another $36.4 million (6.5 cents per dollar spent on lottery tickets) to environmental and natural resources programs in fiscal year 2013. This money was allocated for state and local parks and trails operations and maintenance, programs to enhance fishing and hunting, and the state’s three public zoos.
How do we distribute the money?
Prizes Paid to Players
During FY13, the Lottery paid out more than $347 million in prizes to the holders of winning tickets. Lotto game prizes that are unclaimed one year after the date of the drawing and scratch game prizes that are unclaimed one year after the game ends can no longer be redeemed. This unclaimed prize money goes to the State’s General Fund. Unclaimed prizes in FY13 totaled $11.1 million.
The General Fund finances most programs operated by the State of Minnesota. During FY13, the Lottery contributed $75 million to this fund. While a significant amount of money, lottery proceeds make up less than 1 percent of the $31 billion collected for the General Fund during the biennium. The largest sources of revenue for the General Fund are the individual income tax (45 percent of General Fund revenue) and the sales tax (29 percent).
It is not possible to identify specific programs within the General Fund that are funded by lottery proceeds. Lottery money can be assumed to be distributed in the same percentages as overall spending from the General Fund.
Education programs comprise the single largest beneficiary of General Fund dollars, accounting for 48 percent of state spending during FY10-11. This is divided between K-12 education finance (41 percent) and post-secondary education (7 percent). Health and human services programs account for 27 percent of General Fund spending, with property tax aids and credits accounting for another 10 percent. The remaining 15 percent is spent on a wide range of programs, such as economic development, transportation and criminal justice.
Game and Fish Fund
The Game and Fish Fund is the primary means of funding the state's programs to manage and enhance hunting and fishing. The main sources of money for this fund include fishing and hunting licenses, fines for hunting and fishing rule violations, and other fees. The 2000 legislature was the first to dedicate a portion of lottery revenues to this fund.
For fiscal year 2013, 36.2 percent of the in-lieu-of-sales tax on lottery tickets is dedicated to the Game & Fish Fund. By law, this money "may be spent only on activities that improve, enhance, or protect fish and wildlife resources, including conservation, restoration, and enhancement of land, water, and other natural resources of the state" (Minnesota Statutes section 297A.44, subdivision 1, paragraph (e), clause (1)). The law further states that this money "may not be used as a substitute for traditional sources of funding" but should be used to supplement existing programs.
For fiscal year 2013, the legislature appropriated $13 million in lottery revenue to the Department of Natural Resources through the Game and Fish Fund.
Natural Resources Fund
The Natural Resources Fund receives money from various fees and resources connected with natural resources management, such as snowmobile and ATV registration fees, proceeds from the sale of some surplus state land, and fines for certain natural resources-related violations. Beginning in 2000, the legislature dedicated a portion of lottery revenues to this fund.
For fiscal year 2012, 36.2 percent of the in-lieu-of-sales tax on lottery tickets is dedicated to the Natural Resources Fund. By law, 45 percent of this money must be spent on state parks and trails; another 45 percent must be spent on parks and trails in the Twin Cities metropolitan area; 6 percent on local trails; and 4 percent on the Duluth, Como, and Apple Valley zoos. The law further states that this money “may not be used as a substitute for traditional sources of funding” but is to be used to supplement existing programs. For FY13, $13 million was allocated to the Natural Resources Fund.