Local Politics

Raid on lottery funds prompts call for name change

Posted March 10, 2009

N.C. Education Lottery
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— Some state lawmakers want to scratch "education" off the name of the North Carolina Education Lottery, saying funds are being used to balance the state budget and aren't going to public schools.

"Its just truth in advertising," said Rep. Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, a co-sponsor of House Bill 518, which says the state-run numbers games should be marketed as the "North Carolina State Lottery."

Lottery tickets Should 'education' be dropped from lottery name?

Gov. Beverly Perdue last month pulled $50 million from the Education Lottery Reserve Fund as part of a $300 million emergency fund to help cover state operations, and the state held back another $38 million in school construction funds from counties.

"I have, I believe, succeeded in capturing the first round of money that is in trust funds that I can get my hands on," Perdue said Tuesday.

State law sets aside less than 2 percent of lottery sales proceeds for the reserve fund, which pays off huge jackpots. About a third of the money goes to education, half goes to general prizes and the rest pays retailers and administrative and marketing costs.

Lottery supporters used the concept of devoting proceeds to public schools to push the lottery through the General Assembly in 2005, and the name "education lottery" has been used to sell the games to the public ever since.

If lottery money is going to be shifted to other governmental uses, Tillis said, the name should reflect that it's no longer an "education lottery."

"If it's going to create, as in (the case of) the Highway Trust Fund, a practice where you take things intended for one specific purpose that people have trusted you to spend (it on) and then use it for something else, I think we need to be honest about it," Tillis said.

Former Gov. Mike Easley repeatedly urged lawmakers to pass legislation while he was in office that would lock lottery funds down exclusively for education, but the effort never gained traction.

Perdue said most of the state's general fund already goes toward education.

"Fifty-two percent of the bills I'm paying are related to schools – public schools and teachers," she said.

Last year, state Sen. Harris Blake, R-Moore, suggested dropping "education" from the lottery name because he didn't think schools and gambling should be linked. His bill never came up for a vote.

Tillis said he hopes his bill makes it through the General Assembly.

"We just need to put the heat on people who tell us that education is a top priority, who tell us that the lottery was passed to fund education and improve our situation here, that you really ought to look elsewhere when you need to try to fill a budget shortfall," he said.

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  • time4real Mar 11, 2009

    "Did anyone really beleive that this would be spent on the education system?"

    Apparently a bunch of dummies did. ALl I ever hear is, "education, I thought the lottery was to take care of that!"

    Good riddance!

  • Proud2BUS Citizen Mar 11, 2009

    Did anyone really beleive that this would be spent on the education system?

  • blueridgerunner Mar 11, 2009

    How much money would the State save each year if we didn't have a lottery?
    Advertising money spent to publicize the lottery— media dollars: radio, tv, newspaper, circulars; agency fees; talent fees, production costs, = ?
    Salaries and bonuses for Sheehan, lottery employees, state officials and bureaucracy= ?
    Costs for gaming machines, hardware, software, installation and maintainance of a huge network and personel= ?
    Printing costs for secure scratch off cards, point of purchase displays, delivery and secure disposal of old material across the state= ?
    Airtime for weekly drawing, machines, inspections, on air talent, production team, studio rental etc.=?
    Costs to verify winners and issue the winning money=? Miscellaneous costs ie travel expenses, lottery symposiums, conferences, gaming rules seminars, lunches...=?

    Well let's just say conservatively speaking it costs the state millions. Maybe those dollars could have gone directly to education or to pay tax refunds?

  • Qwerty27807 Mar 11, 2009

    How about REALLY being truthful and renaming the lottery the "Voluntary Stupid Tax to benefit Pork-Barrel Spending"?

  • The Fox Mar 11, 2009

    ["And Tony and Marc keep right on governing and spending on their own pet projects like there's no tomorrow. More highways around Fayetteville, they'de do more 4 lane to the outer banks if there was not such a deep swamp/ditch beside the road. Next thing you see will be the Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet going from 2 lanes to 5."

    Actually US 64's being widened all the way to the Outer Banks, and the new Bonner Bridge is proposed to be 3 lanes wide. I know you were just spouting off with nothing to back it up, just wanted to inject some facts into your rant.]There is alot of truth there, not rants. The point being is that much highway money is diverted to Tony & Marcs districts out of proportion to the actual need.

  • foetine Mar 11, 2009

    If this lottery is all about "education" donation then anytime I buy a losing ticket, the state should let me count it as a charity donation to buy Little timmy's textbooks.

  • 68_polara Mar 11, 2009

    It's not like we didn't tell you all that this was going to happen before the lottery was passed. The education system in North Carolina is in worse shape now than before the lottery was started... The biggest difference now is that we have a state sponsored addiction.

  • Bendal1 Mar 11, 2009

    "And Tony and Marc keep right on governing and spending on their own pet projects like there's no tomorrow. More highways around Fayetteville, they'de do more 4 lane to the outer banks if there was not such a deep swamp/ditch beside the road. Next thing you see will be the Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet going from 2 lanes to 5."

    Actually US 64's being widened all the way to the Outer Banks, and the new Bonner Bridge is proposed to be 3 lanes wide. I know you were just spouting off with nothing to back it up, just wanted to inject some facts into your rant.

  • showed up late Mar 11, 2009

    "The lottery is just another deceitful way of making people think that they actually have a chance to become rich."

    Really???? I mean REALLY? You don't give folks enough credit for having a microbe of thinking. Besides, one has no chance of winning is if one don't spend one cash dollar. Jeepers, it's mainly a novelty to folks.

  • really02 Mar 11, 2009

    get rid of it

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