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SC Leaders Already Fighting Over Lottery Ticket Proceeds

Voting machines? Pension fund bailout?

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It has only been a few hours since Mega Millions announced that a single ticket purchased in Simpsonville, South Carolina bore the winning numbers for a historic $1.537 billion jackpot.

The winning ticket from Tuesday evening’s drawing – 5, 28, 62, 65 and 70, with a Mega Ball of 5 – was sold at KC Mart #7 at 303 Lee Vaughn Road in Simpsonville, a town of just over 21,000 located on the “Golden Strip” along Interstate 385 southeast of Greenville, S.C.

The prize could wind up being the biggest single-winner jackpot in American history.  Two years ago, three winning tickets split a $1.586 billion jackpot – the largest prize ever award.  The current record for a single jackpot winner is $656 million – set in March of 2012.

The winner of this unprecedented largesse has 180 days to claim it.  They do not have to reveal their identity, according to the S.C. Education Lottery.

It is not immediately clear how much the winning ticket will net the state in income taxes, however legislative leaders are already bickering over the best way to appropriate what is likely to be an unexpected windfall of tens of millions of dollars.

That didn’t take long, did it?

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South Carolina governor Henry McMaster reportedly wants the unexpected surplus – which could top the $100 million mark – to go toward shoring up the state’s woefully mismanaged pension fund.

Legislative leaders have other ideas, though.

S.C. House ways and means chairman Brian White – whose committee will get first crack at the fiscal year 2018-2019 budget – is said to be eyeing the money for a one-time, $70 million purchase of new voting machines.  No word yet on what powerful S.C. Senate president Hugh Leatherman wants the money to go toward, “but rest assured he wants it spent,” one political insider told us.

That is for sure …

State lawmakers – who have ballooned the budget by billions in recent years – already have an unexpected surplus of nearly $180 million to play with in the coming fiscal year.  This news outlet has urged them to give every penny of that surplus back to cash-strapped South Carolina taxpayers, whose employment situation remains murky and whose income levels continue to lag behind the rest of the nation.

The winner (or winners, assuming the ticket was purchased as part of a pool) have a choice as to how they wish to be paid.  They can take $828 million in a lump sum or receive the full $1.537 billion in annual installments over the next three decades.

Depending on which option is chosen, the state could see anywhere from $58 million to $108 million in proceeds, based on its seven percent top marginal income tax rate.

Developing …

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