North Carolina Lottery officials don't believe the payoff from the state lottery will be as big as lawmakers and Gov. Mike Easley think it will be.
N.C. Education Lottery commissioners guessed Powerball and other games will bring in $402 million in the lottery's first full year in a budget approved Tuesday.
That's $23 million less than the amount Easley touted in pitching the game to lawmakers.
Lottery spokeswoman Pam Walker said commission members wanted to pick a target they're sure they can hit. She said the money still provides a large boost for prekindergarten, reducing elementary school class size and college scholarships.
"They can do a lot with $400 million," Walker said of legislators.
House and Senate leaders, Easley and other lottery boosters who convinced lawmakers to approve a lottery last year argued the state could bring in $425 million. Easley used that figure in his proposed budget. Lawmakers who are still debating the spending plan are using that figure.
Others, including lottery director Tom Shaheen, have used figures closer to $400 million. The lottery's budget is the first time commissioners made a formal comment on how much they believe the games will bring in.
The lower projection didn't faze lottery boosters Tuesday.
"The first time someone (from North Carolina) wins the Powerball, you'll see more revenues," said Rep. Bill Owens, D-Pasquotank, who wrote the lottery bill.
Easley spokeswoman Cari Boyce said the governor would consider the lottery officials' projections, but added, "We still believe that $425 million is a realistic figure."
In any case, the lottery won't go broke. The lottery's budget is based on a fiscal year that starts July 1. The lottery started three months before the fiscal year's start, so the state will have an estimated $50 million cushion because of sales legislators weren't banking on, lottery officials said.