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Some Lawmakers Want Changes In Lottery Proceeds Distribution For Schools

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RALEIGH, N.C. — With more than $2 million in sales every day, North Carolinians are spending big hoping to win big. Now schools are battling to get their share of the state lottery proceeds.

A portion of money spent on tickets ultimately goes to local school construction. But will the cut be enough?

In Wake County, for example, the estimated check would be $9 million a year. That would only pay for one-half of a new elementary school. The lottery won't solve Wake County's problems -- 17 new schools are needed over the next few years.

  • Local Counties' Education Funding With, Without Changes

    However, some lawmakers propose an allocation of proceeds based on the number of students in each school system. While this would benefit Wake County, it would deprive other systems in the Triangle.

    The current formula is based on enrollment and property taxes, so counties with higher tax rates get more lottery dollars than if it were based on enrollment alone.

    Rep. Jennifer Weiss, D-Wake, said Wake County would benefit from the "enrollment only" formula.

    "We are really saddled with a tremendous challenge with our growth," said Weiss. "We're trying to keep up with it, with our school construction."

    Deputy Wake County Manager Joe Durham feels Wake County is penalized for its low rate. Wake County would get $15 million a year versus $9 million from the lottery if the formula changed.

    "Typically, the larger counties are growing faster and need more money for building schools," said Durham.

    In WRAL's viewing area, most counties would suffer if the proposed allocation was mandated.

    "The counties I represent, Halifax, Franklin, Nash, are among the counties badly affected," said Rep. Lucy Allen.

    Allen said the counties with higher tax rates are often poor and she wants the funding to stay the same.

    "Wake County has tremendous resources," said Allen. "I wish them the best, but I do not think the lottery funding should be changed."

    Of each dollar spent on a lottery ticket, 35 cents goes to education. Half of that goes to class size reduction and other programs. Fourteen cents goes to new construction, and 3 1/2 cents of each dollar goes to scholarships.

    The lottery is expected to generate $1.2 billion a year, with about $425 million going toward education initiatives.

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