Local News

Lawmakers Want To Earmark More Lottery Taxes For Education

Posted May 16, 2006

— The lottery bill originally passed because of a promise to fund education. Now, lawmakers are looking for ways to squeeze out even more for schools.

When customers lay their money down to buy a lottery ticket, 35 cents of each dollar is directed to education. If they win, the state takes another chunk - a 7 percent withholding tax. That money goes into the state's general fund. Now, some lawmakers want to change that.

"Everything dealing with the lottery needs to stick with education," said Rep. Doug Yongue, D-Hoke.

Yongue believes community colleges should get those tax dollars. They are notoriously short of funding for equipment, training, and programs.

"You're looking at well over $200 million of needs that we've been neglecting for years, nickel and diming to death," he said.

Lottery Executive Director Tom Shaheen said dedicating tax money from winnings is a novel idea. It's unclear exactly how much the withholding will generate, but it's likely to reach well into the tens of millions of dollars.

"Any prize over $600, you're collecting whatever the state tax, is and that is a sizable amount of money over time," said Shaheen.

It's still early, but so far, the bill is getting favorable reviews in the house. The leadership supports it. But, there's a general expectation that other school systems will line up to claim their share.

"University system and public schools could use this money as well," said Yongue. "But if we spread it out so thin, we're not going to accomplish so much."

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