Local News

Smaller percentage of lottery proceeds going to education

Posted September 24, 2010 6:04 p.m. EDT
Updated September 25, 2010 10:18 a.m. EDT

N.C. Education Lottery

— Like or loathe the state lottery, there's no question the total amount it generates for education keeps growing. One thing that isn't growing, however, is the percentage that goes to schools. The funding formula keeps changing.

Since its inception, state lawmakers and lottery leaders tweaked the funding formula in an effort to increase ticket sales.

A new report from the nonprofit watchdog group North Carolina Policy Watch shows just how much it's changed.

When it started, the lottery paid 35 cents of every dollar sold to education. Now, it's down to 29 cents, says Sara Ovaska with N.C. Policy Watch.

"The actual size of the piece of pie that education is getting is smaller," Ovaska said. "So, how small is it going to get?"

"Whether it's 29 percent or 35 percent or 45 percent, the point for me is that bottom-line dollar, so we've seen more revenue going to schools," Gov. Bev Perdue said.

Perdue defends the move to put more money in prizes to generate more lottery sales. She also defends moving lottery money out of school construction to save teacher jobs.

The governor says she opposes supplanting school funds with lottery, yet WRAL News tracked the General Fund education allotment from the time the lottery passed.

The games failed to stop a trend going on for years. Overall spending slowly increased, but the actual public school percentage of the General Fund continued to drop off.

Perdue said that without lottery money for education – about $419 million this year – the state would be in a much worse budget situation than it already is.