House leaders unveil budget that bets on lottery

Posted June 10, 2014

— State House leaders on Tuesday unveiled their $21 billion budget plan for next year. It includes an average 5 percent pay raise for teachers, with starting salaries getting a bigger boost. 

State workers would get a $1,000 raise, plus benefits. Retirees would receive a 1.44 percent cost-of-living increase. 

Senior budget chairman Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, said the teacher raise isn't funded by cuts elsewhere to education. Instead, it would be paid for in large part by growth in the North Carolina Education Lottery.

The plan would double the amount of money – from 1 to 2 percent of net proceeds – that the lottery can spend on advertising. That's projected to yield an additional $425 million in ticket sales and $106 million in net proceeds. Dollar said that estimate came from lottery administrators. 

"We are very confident, the lottery is very confident, that they will more than meet the goal," Dollar said.

The additional advertising funding comes with some strings attached: House Speaker Thom Tillis said the budget provision also includes stronger disclaimers to lottery players about odds and actual payouts.

Tillis acknowledged that some in his caucus dislike the lottery, but he predicted they would support the changes. 

"My guess is, if Republicans had been in the majority at the time the lottery was put before the people, it would never have made it to the floor," Tillis conceded. "But it is here, and you can't necessarily unring that bell when you're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars going to education."

Lottery director Alice Garland said ticket sales have risen steadily over the years, but never the 20 percent that lawmakers now expect. She said she doesn't know of any state lottery called on to increase revenue by that much.

"This is heady stuff. It will take a lot, but we are dedicated. We can make it happen," Garland said.

The lottery plans introduce new games to step up sales, and the House budget also would tap more than $60 million in lottery reserves.

Chris Fitzsimon of the the left-leaning NC Policy Watch, called the plan "cynical, outrageous and ... hypocritical."

"What they've done is they've counted on convincing people to throw their money away on a state lottery as the only way they can afford a teacher raise," Fitzsimon said, adding that he still prefers the House's proposed budget to the plan adopted last month by the Senate.

The House plan does not link teacher raises to tenure. In fact, said Rep. Bryan Holloway, R-Stokes, it doesn't address tenure at all.  

"This budget has no strings attached to it," he said. "You do not have to give up tenure or give up anything to get your pay raise. It's just automatic." 

The Senate budget called for teachers to receive 11 percent raises on average, but teachers who insisted on retaining their career status rights, or tenure, wouldn't be put on the new salary scale that includes the raises.

The House plan also does not include the Senate's proposed cuts to teaching assistants or school nurses. It would also keep open the Wright School in Durham, which provides mental health services for children.

After expressing concerns about the Senate budget, Gov. Pat McCrory gave the House spending plan a thumbs-up after an initial review.

"I will continue to support a budget plan that provides sustainable raises for teachers and state employees, protects teacher assistants, protects master’s pay, provides career pathways for teachers and funds core services for the needy and disabled," McCrory said in a statement.

Like the Senate, the House plan moves the State Bureau of Investigation out of the Attorney General's Office into the Department of Public Safety, although the State Crime Lab would stay under the attorney general.  It also moves the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission into DPS from the Department of Commerce.  

Rep. Justin Burr, R-Stanly, said the House proposal also avoids the steep cuts to Medicaid eligibility proposed by the Senate. 

Tillis predicted a smooth, quick conference process.

"It is our goal to vote this out this week," he said of the House budget, adding that he believes the House and Senate could finish negotiations and pass a final version by the end of next week. 

Sections of the House spending plan will be heard and amended in subcommittees Tuesday. On Wednesday, the proposal goes before the full House Finance and Appropriations committees. It's required to receive two votes before the full House, which are tentatively scheduled for Thursday and Friday.


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  • frosty Jun 11, 2014

    The lottery is an abomination that should be eliminated not encouraged.

  • dubious Jun 11, 2014

    Article IX, Section 2 of the NC Constitution states: "The General Assembly shall provide by taxation and otherwise for a general and uniform system of free public schools, which shall be maintained at least nine months in every year, and wherein equal opportunities shall be provided for all students."

    When the authors entrusted the General Assembly by adding "and otherwise" to the funding mix, I rather doubt that gambling on more gambling revenue was what they had in mind. The GA certainly hasn't ensured "equal opportunities for ALL students."

    At some point somebody will probably want this new formula declared unconstitutional. Unfortunately, justices are elected in this state and their campaigns are bought and paid for by special interests,

  • pmayes7488 Jun 11, 2014

    Now dumb is this..if we sell more tickests you get a raise...alot bs...Sorry for the techer of North Carolina

  • Terry Watts Jun 11, 2014
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    View quoted thread

    NC has had 3 Constitutions - 1776, 1868, and 1971. And all three address public funding of education in some fashion...

  • Rudy Bizzell Jun 11, 2014
    user avatar

    Never going to be enough money. New taxes/fees and the old taxes rising. Goverment officals need to have pay/benefits cuts. When large new subdivision/aparments built developers should have to pay extra because of all the infurstructures building this causes.

  • bmac813 Jun 11, 2014

    If they want to increase the Sales of Lottery Tickets, They better get People who Know how to Operate the Machines.
    I laugh every time I want to Play the Lottery, first you have to fill out your Ticket, Than the Person doesn't know how to make it work in the Machine.
    Do you know how many time I wanted to Play the Lottery and after awhile I just said forget it. A lot of places that have the Lottery , Like food lion on Capital Blv. You almost have to Beg someone to take your Ticket.
    I go back to Pa. and walk into a Lottery Place and don't even have to fill out a card, just tell the Person what Numbers you want and it's over. Almost every Supermarket up there has someone at the Counter and all they do is Run The Lottery Machine.

  • juliomercado Jun 11, 2014

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    That is probably because that is the LAW. You cannot buy lottery tickets with EBT or Debit/credit cards. Your point is to imply that folks poor enough to need EBT shouldn't be playing the lottery. I get that. Again, who exactly are you to judge them? A lot of EBT folks actually work but make such small incomes they rate the program. Do I think folks that poor should be playing the lottery? NO, of course not. Do I think its anybody's place to judge? NO, of course not. One other thing that does support your claim is a lot of people also get paid 'under the table' so they can receive EBT and other assistance. That is a problem that truly should be addressed. I imagine NC is losing tens of millions to such arrangements.

  • Thomas Williams Jun 11, 2014
    user avatar

    Seems that the lottery that Easley slid in at the midnight hour isn't the cure that a lot of people anticipated it would be.

  • jurydoc Jun 10, 2014

    For those of you calling for evidence from a lottery audit, here you go


  • redfish Jun 10, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Maybe a choice, education or gas tax.