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N.C. Lottery misunderstandings could derail bonds

North Carolina LotteryNorth Carolina Lottery: N.C. Lottery misunderstandings could derail bonds

The new North Carolina lottery is supposed to help fund education, but local school officials and advocates are worried that the newly created state game could shut off a vital source of funding.

"Our worry is that the public will see the lottery as being this great boon and will say, 'Well, we don't need to vote for this bond. The lottery will take care of it,' " said Margaret Arbuckle, director of the Guilford Education Alliance, a business group that is a booster for public schools.

Bonds are nearly always controversial because each new bond issue typically brings about a corresponding tax increase. The lottery, Arbuckle and others worry, could give voters one more excuse to not pass bonds.

It's happened before.

After the creation of the Florida lottery in 1986, only three of 15 bond issues proposed by local school districts were approved by voters. Before the lottery, 21 of 22 had been approved.

Many said that Florida voters were too optimistic about the lottery's ability to fund education after being fed a steady diet of lobbying and advertisements on behalf of the game.

An informal survey of News & Record readers found mixed attitudes. Some said they would continue to look at each bond proposal as it came. But several said they would vote against any future school bond issue after the lottery began giving money to education.

"The lottery is supposed to take care of the schools if they use the money like they said they would," said Ouida Campbell, an accountant at a Greensboro nursing home. "From talking to people who lived up in the North, the lottery was the best thing that ever happened for the schools up there."

North Carolina's lottery law sets aside a share of the proceeds for school construction, the same thing that local school districts use bonds to pay for.

Under the current distribution formula, Guilford County would get about $10 million a year for school construction. That's almost enough to build an elementary school.

But according to district officials, Guilford's school population is growing by 1,500 students or more annually, enough to fill three elementary schools.

Voter-approved bond issues in 2000 and 2004 authorized the district to borrow about $500 million for construction. But that's only half of what amounts to a $1 billion building program that will likely require the district to ask the voters for more borrowing power in 2007 or 2008.

Guilford County Schools Superintendent Terry Grier said that he too is worried about the lottery's effect on voter attitudes.

"That's a huge concern on our part," Grier said. "It's going to take a great deal of effort on our part to get the message out."

Greensboro News Record

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2 comments. Last comment 11 years ago by Rip Snorter.
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Sparta, NJ
United States
Member #18331
July 9, 2005
1977 Posts
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Posted: December 26, 2005, 10:41 am - IP Logged

I would hope that multi-million dollar bonds, in this case a billion dollar issue, will always require getting the message out.  The need for tax increases should always be more than an emotional agreement based on its title.

Cheers

|||::> *'`*:-.,_,.-:*''*:--->>> Chewie  <<<---.*''*:-.,_,.-:*''* <:::|||

I only trust myself - and that's a questionable choice

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    New Mexico
    United States
    Member #12305
    March 10, 2005
    2984 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: December 27, 2005, 7:00 pm - IP Logged

    "Our worry is that the public will see the lottery as being this great boon and will say, 'Well, we don't need to vote for this bond. The lottery will take care of it,' " said Margaret Arbuckle, director of the Guilford Education Alliance, a business group that is a booster for public schools.

    Maybe the voters in those school districts they're worried about in FL just decided they weren't getting enough bang for the buck when they passed bonds to raise their own taxes.  Maybe they're the leading edge of a new wave of thinking voters who think maybe the kids aren't being educated enough already to bet on the come and think they'll be educated more if they tax themselves higher.

    Maybe it just doesn't have anything at all to do with lottery passage and has a lot to do with the education system, instead.

    Maybe they remembered back to the last time they passed a bond to increase their education taxes and did the forbidden:  compared the educations their kids got before the tax increase to the educations they got after it, and earmarked the results for the next time the stepped into a voting booth.

    Jack

    Absorb the good, ignore the bad, weigh the ugly.

    It's about number behavior.

    Egos don't count.

     

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