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CALL 6: Why can't the Hoosier Lottery money fix our roads?

Build Indiana Fund does help infrastructure needs
Posted at 5:52 PM, Mar 16, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS – As potholes continue to cause headaches for Central Indiana drivers, some have asked why money from the Hoosier Lottery can’t be used to fix crumbling roads.

East side resident Pat Bridgewater contacted Call 6 Investigates after being fed up with her neighborhood’s roads.

“Why can’t the lottery money be used to fix the roads?” Bridgewater asked. 

The short answer is some lottery money is going toward roads and addressing infrastructure.

Now, here's the long answer.

Since the Hoosier Lottery debuted in 1989, the agency has paid more than $11.5 billion to winning players and has contributed more than $5.1 billion to various causes across the state.

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Each year, $30 million is paid to local police and firefighters' pensions, and another $30 million is paid to the Teachers' Retirement Fund.

The remaining monies go into the Build Indiana Fund, which in part lowers the vehicle excise tax.

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In fiscal year 2017, $220 million in lottery surplus revenue went to the Build Indiana Fund.

The Build Indiana Fund is used for a slew of local projects, including improving roads, river basin dredging, airport development, and education technology projects.

Records show Indiana counties used lottery funds on road projects but it's unclear how many involved repaving and filling potholes.

“The counties can then use this money for any purpose they see fit,” said Indiana Rep. Kevin Mahan (R-Hartford City). “This can range from local road repairs to various public safety improvement efforts. The money remaining in the Build Indiana Fund, usually around $14 million per year, then goes to a variety of important projects across the state. These projects include improving internet connectivity in local schools and libraries.”

In terms of percentages, 60 percent of the lottery's financial distributions go to player winnings, 27 percent to state causes, seven percent to retailers and six percent to operating expenses, according to current figures provided by the Hoosier Lottery.

For a county-by-county breakdown of where the lottery money goes, click here.

For example, Marion County receives $32 million a year in contributions from the Hoosier Lottery for the Build Indiana Fund.

“While it may initially seem like the lottery is a viable solution to resolving our state’s transportation infrastructure issues, there are a few problems with this concept,” said Mahan. “Revenue the state makes from the lottery already helps fund all of these commendable priorities. We want to make sure the teachers, police officers and firefighters that have dedicated their service to Indiana and have invested in our pension programs are taken care of.”

Rep. Mahan’s office said the lottery was never intended to be a long-term solution for transportation infrastructure needs.

“The Hoosier Lottery does not generate anywhere near enough annual revenue to sustainably cover our road funding shortfalls,” said Mahan.  

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Any changes to how the state spends lottery funds would likely take a change in Indiana statute.

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