Easley wants to take from scholarships and give to pre-K program
Gov. Mike Easley's spending plan for next year would shift profits from the N.C. Lottery toward a pre-kindergarten program at the expense of school construction and scholarships.
Easley has asked legislators to change the law so that he can earmark more money for the More at Four program, which prepares at-risk 4-year-old children for school. Easley wants to add 10,000 spaces in the program, which currently serves more than 19,600 students, according to a legislative report released this month.
Expanding More at Four would require $144.6 million, or about $60 million more than was set aside from this year's lottery profits for the program, according to budget documents.
Education officials have said that helping children before they enter kindergarten is one of the best ways to help them succeed, Easley's budget adviser Dan Gerlach told legislators yesterday. Legislators are reviewing Easley's $20.1 billion state spending plan that was released last week.
The 2005 lottery law requires that 50 percent of the lottery's net profits go toward the More at Four program and that class sizes in early grades are reduced. The law also requires that 40 percent of revenue go to local governments for school construction and 10 percent be spent on need-based scholarships.
Easley's plan calls for setting aside 62 percent of lottery profits for More at Four and class-size reduction, 30 percent for school construction and 7.5 percent for scholarships.
The budget estimates that the lottery will generate $438 million in profits if changes are made to shift more ticket revenue toward prizes. The move would help boost instant-ticket sales and raise more money for education, Easley has said.
First-year ticket sales are expected to fall $200 million short of the lottery's original projection of $1.2 billion as scratch-off ticket sales have slipped.