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Expect N.C. lottery changes to affirm education spending

North Carolina LotteryNorth Carolina Lottery: Expect N.C. lottery changes to affirm education spending

When the North Carolina General Assembly returns for session next week, lawmakers won't have to answer the question they've been asked to speculate on for years: Will the lottery finally pass?

It finally did last August.

The North Carolina Education Lottery began selling its first scratch-off tickets March 30. Sales had surpassed $100 million by late Friday and should soar when the multistate Powerball gets under way at the end of May.

"I think they did a great job getting the lottery up and running," said Rep. Bill Owens, D-Pasquotank, who filed lottery bills for years until finally getting one through in 2005.

Now, there will be a new question at the Legislative Building: Should the lottery law already be changed?

Lawmakers say expect proposals when they reconvene May 9 to ensure that the estimated $400 million projected in net lottery proceeds adds to existing education spending, rather than replace it. Others may seek a new formula that determines how a portion of those profits earmarked for local school construction projects are allocated.

But there doesn't appear to be much support to tinker with how the lottery games operate, saying it's too early to make changes.

"We're going to make sure that we do not allow the lottery money to supplant current education money," House Speaker Jim Black, D-Mecklenburg, said after a recent meeting with fellow House Democrats. "That's very important to all of us."

Gov. Mike Easley and legislative leaders have insisted that the lottery profits will be added to the state's education budget, rather than replacing money that can be used in other agencies.

Exactly how that will be accomplished, and whether it will make any difference to critics, is unclear.

The law requires half of lottery profits to be spent on the More at Four preschool program and class-size reduction in elementary schools. Another 40 percent is earmarked for school construction and 10 percent for college scholarships.

Last year, lawmakers initially included a provision in the law prohibiting lottery profits from replacing existing money spent on education.

But that was dropped in the final version of the law. Its absence didn't get much attention until Easley's office said it would use lottery money to replace as much as $200 million the Legislature already was spending on More at Four and class-size reduction to pay for 5 percent raises for teachers.

Easley said the education budget he'll recommend to lawmakers will go up at least by the same amount of projected lottery revenues, along with extra money to reflect enrollment and revenue growth. And he wouldn't sign any budget passed by the Legislature that doesn't agree with that.

Easley has talked about putting language in state law or in the state constitution to ensure lottery proceeds will be above and beyond existing education funding even after he leaves office in 2009.

Easley spokeswoman Sherri Johnson said the governor wasn't ready to release his lottery suggestions, but House Majority Leader Joe Hackney, D-Orange, said it seems as if talk of a constitutional amendment has quieted.

Lottery opponents argue that any so-called "non-supplant" language won't have much of an impact because some lottery money is already earmarked for ongoing programs. It's impossible to say whether lawmakers would have kept using regular tax revenues to pay for those program if lottery funds didn't exist.

"I don't think there's any way to absolutely guarantee that supplanting will not take place," said John Rustin with the North Carolina Family Policy Council.

Hackney said he expects discussions over whether to change the formula in the lottery law to disburse a projected $161.5 million in money for school construction.

Sixty-five percent of the money is supposed to be allocated to all 100 counties based on the average daily attendance in their public schools. The remainder is handed out disproportionately to those counties whose three-year weighted average property tax is above the state average.

Some large counties like Wake County have complained that their proposed share of $9.2 million next year is half of what Mecklenburg County will receive even though their enrollment figures are somewhat similar.

"It's about 45 counties that are being discriminated against the other 45 counties, with 10 counties about a wash," said Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake, a lottery opponent. "It's blatantly discriminatory."

Dozens of smaller, rural counties will receive less than $1 million annually. Bertie County manager Zee Lamb said the $497,000 his county is scheduled to receive still will make a difference to a county with a budget of $17.5 million.

"We ... need all the help we can get," Lamb said. "I hope if they do tinker with the formula it doesn't punish or penalize low-wealth counties."

Others have talked about raising the percentage of ticket revenues dedicated to prizes above the current 50 percent, which is low compared to surrounding states. Along with loosening advertising restrictions and spending limits, the higher payouts could help boost sales.

Tom Shaheen, the lottery's executive director, said that while some technical issues may be considered in the future, he's satisfied with the current law.

"The advertising restrictions are tough, but I believe they're here to stay," he said.

AP

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11 comments. Last comment 11 years ago by CASH Only.
Page 1 of 1
LOTTOMIKE's avatar - rsz 1franklinmillion-front.jpg
Tennessee
United States
Member #7853
October 15, 2004
11339 Posts
Offline
Posted: May 1, 2006, 7:28 am - IP Logged

they are very stingy with payouts.......

    Avatar

    United States
    Member #26469
    November 18, 2005
    160 Posts
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    Posted: May 1, 2006, 9:42 am - IP Logged

    lighten up guy.You don't want people thinking you're always negative do you?

      LOTTOMIKE's avatar - rsz 1franklinmillion-front.jpg
      Tennessee
      United States
      Member #7853
      October 15, 2004
      11339 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: May 2, 2006, 7:34 am - IP Logged

      lighten up? you lighten up,lol

        LOTTOMIKE's avatar - rsz 1franklinmillion-front.jpg
        Tennessee
        United States
        Member #7853
        October 15, 2004
        11339 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: May 2, 2006, 7:35 am - IP Logged

        you got the wrong impression of me NCPicks.i am far from negative...

          Tenaj's avatar - michellea
          Charlotte NC
          United States
          Member #17406
          June 18, 2005
          4054 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: May 2, 2006, 8:10 pm - IP Logged

          lighten up? you lighten up,lol

          ThudHere we go again.  It's beginning to be funny.

          takeemtothebank

            JAP69's avatar - alas
            South Carolina
            United States
            Member #6
            November 4, 2001
            8797 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: May 2, 2006, 8:18 pm - IP Logged

            Gov. Mike Easley and legislative leaders have insisted that the lottery profits will be added to the state's education budget, rather than replacing money that can be used in other agencies.

            __________________________________________________

            And the education funding in the regular state budget will be decreased and those funds put somewhere else as lottery revenue for education increases.
            A shell game

            Oo'Ka

              Tenaj's avatar - michellea
              Charlotte NC
              United States
              Member #17406
              June 18, 2005
              4054 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: May 2, 2006, 8:41 pm - IP Logged

              Gov. Mike Easley and legislative leaders have insisted that the lottery profits will be added to the state's education budget, rather than replacing money that can be used in other agencies.

              __________________________________________________

              And the education funding in the regular state budget will be decreased and those funds put somewhere else as lottery revenue for education increases.
              A shell game

              What?Ok, I understand all that, but what's a "shell game?" 

              takeemtothebank

                dvdiva's avatar - 8ball

                United States
                Member #2338
                September 17, 2003
                2063 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: May 2, 2006, 8:47 pm - IP Logged

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shell_game

                Everyone has seen this. 

                  Tenaj's avatar - michellea
                  Charlotte NC
                  United States
                  Member #17406
                  June 18, 2005
                  4054 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: May 2, 2006, 8:53 pm - IP Logged

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shell_game

                  Everyone has seen this. 

                  LOLYou'll right everyone have seen that but hell I thought it was called "the hand is quicker than the eye" game.  I can see that game referenced as a corrupt game politicians play.

                  takeemtothebank

                    JAP69's avatar - alas
                    South Carolina
                    United States
                    Member #6
                    November 4, 2001
                    8797 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: May 2, 2006, 9:08 pm - IP Logged

                    Gov. Mike Easley and legislative leaders have insisted that the lottery profits will be added to the state's education budget, rather than replacing money that can be used in other agencies.

                    __________________________________________________

                    And the education funding in the regular state budget will be decreased and those funds put somewhere else as lottery revenue for education increases.
                    A shell game

                    What?Ok, I understand all that, but what's a "shell game?" 

                    "shell game?"

                    a shell game is where someone shuffles one peanut around under one shell where there are three shells shuffled. You get to guess what shell after they are shuffled.
                    An old county fair game.

                    Oo'Ka


                      United States
                      Member #379
                      June 5, 2002
                      11296 Posts
                      Offline
                      Posted: May 3, 2006, 10:38 am - IP Logged

                      Gov. Mike Easley and legislative leaders have insisted that the lottery profits will be added to the state's education budget, rather than replacing money that can be used in other agencies.

                      __________________________________________________

                      And the education funding in the regular state budget will be decreased and those funds put somewhere else as lottery revenue for education increases.
                      A shell game

                      What?Ok, I understand all that, but what's a "shell game?" 

                      "shell game?"

                      a shell game is where someone shuffles one peanut around under one shell where there are three shells shuffled. You get to guess what shell after they are shuffled.
                      An old county fair game.

                      NY Rotto is like a shell game in that you get ripped off LOL