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Opinion: Time has come for a lottery in North Carolina

North Carolina LotteryNorth Carolina Lottery: Opinion: Time has come for a lottery in North Carolina

Charlotte Observer Editorial
By Jim Black, N.C. House Speaker

North Carolina must make the education of our children our number one priority and find the needed revenue to fund it. The future of our state and its people depend upon it.

Unfortunately, the North Carolina legislature is facing a budget shortfall of more than $1.2 billion in the upcoming year. In order to continue improving education, legislators will either have to increase taxes or find new revenue sources to help fund education.

Raising taxes to pay for education or other programs must be a last option, so I believe that the time has come to create a lottery in North Carolina.

I have never been a strong supporter of the lottery, but North Carolinians are already playing the lottery in Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. Our citizens are sending more than $300 million each year to these states to pay for the education of their children. We must keep that money in North Carolina for our own children and their education.

I believe that legislators must do what it takes to keep this money here at home.

As speaker of the House and as a legislator from Mecklenburg County, which is right across the border from South Carolina and dozens of convenience stores that sell lottery tickets to North Carolinians, it is my hope that within the next two weeks the N.C. House of Representatives will vote on, and approve, legislation that would create a lottery.

Polls show support

North Carolina is one of only eight states that do not have a lottery.Numerous polls show that overwhelmingly North Carolinians want a lottery in our state.

Elon University conducted a statewide poll in February, which found that 69 percent of those surveyed supported the creation of a state lottery in North Carolina, and 37 percent said they had bought a lottery ticket in a neighboring state in the past 12 months.

Some critics of the lottery say that gambling is a sin. I am not an advocate of gambling, but I believe that not providing our children with the best possible education in safe schools, and teaching them in cramped trailers, are much bigger sins.

Communities across North Carolina are having to raise property taxes each year in order to build enough classrooms to hold all the new students who are showing up at the schoolhouse door.

Many school districts are facing school construction needs of more than $100 million. Others are even higher, including Mecklenburg County at more than $700 million, New Hanover County at $350 million and Wake County at $340 million.

Use proceeds to help schools

Supporters of the lottery have suggested using the proceeds for school construction and to reduce class size, to provide college scholarships for needy students with at least a B average to attend our in-state colleges and universities, and to fund early childhood education.

We must also look at the possibility of providing additional funding for alternative learning programs for disruptive students, for schools in low-wealth counties to address the long-running Leandro lawsuit, and for increasing teacher salaries.

Lottery proceeds should only be dedicated to providing additional funding for education, not replacing what we already spend, and not paying for advertising to try to lure people into believing they have a better chance of winning jackpots.

All of these options, and possibly others, are on the table and will be considered by legislators in the coming days.

Do what is right

I expect that the upcoming vote in the House will be extremely close, but I hope that the will of the people to fund education is stronger, because the education of our children must be our top priority.

It is time to do what is right for the education of our children. If it takes passing a lottery to better fund education and keep the more than $300 million in lottery sales here in North Carolina instead of neighboring states, then that is what we must do.

Jim Black of Matthews, a Democrat, represents the 100th District in the N.C. House of Representatives. He is serving his 10th term as a legislator and fourth term as speaker of the House.

Charlotte Observer

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4 comments. Last comment 12 years ago by LOTTOMIKE.
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MADDOG10's avatar - smoke
Beautiful Florida
United States
Member #5709
July 18, 2004
20763 Posts
Posted: March 28, 2005, 7:11 pm - IP Logged

 to the honorable jim black of matthews n.c.:       



                                               " You can not control the Wind, but you can direct the Sail "

    Baton Rouge, LA
    United States
    Member #4602
    May 7, 2004
    701 Posts
    Posted: March 29, 2005, 10:18 am - IP Logged
    Quote: Originally posted by MADDOG10 on March 28, 2005

     to the honorable jim black of matthews n.c.:       


    Agreed.  Considering all of the winning Powerball tickets sold in South Carolina were sold to North Carolina residents, that shows the interest and the demand is there.

    It took a long time for a lottery amendment to the state constitution to get on the ballot in Louisiana.  There were many legislators who were opposed to it and voted it down every time. 

    The only reason many of the opposition finally vote to put it on the ballot was so the issue could be resolved for once and for all by the people.  Many of these same legislators said it wouldn't pass and once that happened, the issue of a lottery would be dead.  As it turned out , 69.2% of Louisiana's voters said yes to a state lottery in 1990 when the referendum was held.

    Perhaps it's time for N.C. to do the same thing.  My job requires I travel to Raleigh every so often.  The place I stayed last time had a convenience store next to it and if they had lottery, I'd have probably bought somel tickets.

    Come on N.C., let the people decide.


      CARBOB's avatar - FL LOTTERY_LOGO.png
      United States
      Member #4924
      June 3, 2004
      6103 Posts
      Posted: March 29, 2005, 10:33 am - IP Logged

      I have a brother who lives right across the state line in S.C. He tells me , you can tell when Powerball starts rolling over by the traffic from Charlotte to S.C. N.C needs the lottery not just for education, but with the price of gas, to save these people some money. LOL


        United States
        Member #7853
        October 15, 2004
        11350 Posts
        Posted: April 2, 2005, 4:15 pm - IP Logged

        hopefully NC will get a lottery.......