By Lorne Fultonberg
OKLAHOMA CITY - Unconstitutional spending last year means state lawmakers will have to pay the lottery millions before it begins to set the state's education budget.
The Board of Equalization determined last month the state supplanted the education budget with $10 million from the lottery.
Under law, lottery money may only be used as a sort of bonus on top of education funding.
It may not take the place of regular funding.
"Clearly, we've had a problem," said David Blatt, director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute. "Education funding has been cut year after year. This is the first time, however, they've been able to say this is at least in part attributable to lottery money not being used as intended."
Relatively speaking, $10 million is a small chunk of the state's roughly $7 billion - and even the education department's approximately $2.5 billion budget.
But, in a year when lawmakers are already struggling to figure out how to fill a nearly $900 million budget deficit, every dollar counts.
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