Local News

Lawmakers Receive Petitions Supporting Statewide Lottery

Posted August 20, 2002 4:40 a.m. EDT

— Supporters of a referendum on an educational lottery have refocused their campaign on the two or three House members whose votes are needed for the measure to pass.

Petitions containing the names of 7,500 people who want to vote on an education lottery were hand-delivered to Triangle lawmakers on Tuesday.

Gary Mentor single-handedly collected the signatures at shopping malls and street corners in Wake County. Mentor delivered copies of the petitions to the 10-member Triangle legislative delegation, including Rep. Jennifer Weiss who still does not know how she will vote if the referendum issue is ever brought to a vote in the House.

Lottery supporters say they simply want to point out what the polls show.

"Every poll indicates that at least 70 percent of North Carolinians support an education lottery," said Gardner Payne, of the Lottery for Education Coalition. "Some polls, for instance the WRAL poll, suggest that number is even higher. This petition does do that. It shows legislators that their constituents, the people who voted for them, want a chance to be heard on the education lottery issue."

Rep. Sam Ellis, R-Wake, said he will not change his mind. He said he is firmly against the lottery referendum.

"There are lottery bills I would consider voting for right now. There is no lottery bill being run. There is just simply is this scam referendum, which does nothing," he said.

The lottery referendum has been on the House calendar for more than a month. House Speaker Jim Black said there will be a vote on the lottery before the end of the session.

Easley said an education lottery can help pull the state out of the red, but numbers from other states may not support his theory.

In the last fiscal year, 20 states saw lottery profits drop. In 15 states, sales dropped. In Ohio, the lottery left schools $52 million short of the $664 million goal. Indiana's sales are also off 6 percent.