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Could Lottery Money Be Used To Help Balance State Budget?

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Over the past few weeks, Gov. Mike Easley has seized money in various areas to help fill budget shortfalls. As North Carolina continues to ponder the possibility of creating a statewide lottery, the question has come up as to what would keep the governor from shifting lottery money from schools to the state budget.

"The state lottery would be no different. It will just be money the government uses at its whim for whatever it wants," John Hood of the Locke Foundation said.

Eddie Davis of the North Carolina Association of Educators is also concerned about the possibility of the lottery money not going to schools.

"We believe and fear that if we don't earmark that money specifically for new education initiatives then we'll end up losing it to a larger form," he said. "That money will end up going to lots of places outside of education."

Sen. Tony Rand, D-Fayetteville, sponsored Easley's lottery bill. He said he is confident that Easley will keep his promise to using the money for education.

"Using our revenue to making our schools better and provide our children more opportunity and try to let us catch up with these states around us that have more money to spend on education than we do," he said.

The North Carolina House will be the battleground for the lottery that could begin as early as next month.