State News

Senate budget would shift lottery proceeds for jobs

Posted May 21, 2010 4:25 p.m. EDT
Updated May 21, 2010 7:03 p.m. EDT

N.C. Education Lottery

— A provision in the state Senate's proposed $19 billion spending plan would allow counties to use proceeds from the North Carolina Education Lottery to temporarily fund teaching jobs.

The lottery's net proceeds account for 4 percent of North Carolina's total public school spending. After prizes and administrative costs, 35 cents of each dollar spent on tickets goes toward pre-kindergarten programs, reducing public school class sizes, college scholarships and school construction.

Senate budget writers are proposing that, because of the struggling economy, counties be allowed for the 2010-11 school year to use funding for school construction on classroom teachers, if it will save jobs.

But not everyone supports the idea.

Todd McGee, communications director of the North Carolina Association for County Commissioners, says counties are already faced with difficult spending decisions and that adding this one would not be fair.

"You'll probably set up some situations where schools will go to counties and ask them for some help," he said. "The counties may not be able to do what they would want to do because they've already obligated those funds to school capital needs."

The preliminary House budget calls for taking $100 million away from counties' capital funds and giving it to the state Department of Public Instruction for teaching positions and personnel costs related to schools.

Some county commissioners say that stripping counties of funds that are already earmarked in many cases is even worse.

Both the Senate and House proposals raise serious concerns.

"Is this really and truly a one-year fix, or as we're hearing about the budget difficulties – two, three, even four years out?" McGee said. "Will this be permanent or at least a much longer term than one year?"