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N.C. Governor changes tactics in push for lottery

Insider BuzzInsider Buzz: N.C. Governor changes tactics in push for lottery

Easley still wants lottery as a revenue source, but he's gentler about it now

Gov. Mike Easley never got the state lottery he pushed for when running for office four years ago. His Republican opponents, some Democratic lawmakers and even some of his biggest supporters in other policy areas have blocked it or spoken against it.

But the Democratic governor who's running for re-election still wants one.

He teased one gaming opponent, his outgoing state education Superintendent Mike Ward, late last month on Ward's last day of work before moving to Mississippi, where his wife got a new job.

"He said if you don't get an education lottery, I'm going to move to a state that has one," the governor joked.

Easley has mentioned the lottery more and more often during the election season, but not in the insistent tone in which he demanded one in his State of the State address nearly two years ago.

Instead, he jokes about it. Or he mentions it whenever reporters or critics say that despite signs in the state of an economic recovery, the budget still might still be short on money for education improvements.

"There's a lot that can be done without adding more money; I concede that. But if you look at all the things we need to address, we are going to have to find another revenue source," Easley said in an interview with the Observer last week. "I think the lottery is the best place to look."

Easley argues that lottery money could expand his More at Four prekindergarten program or the class-size-reduction plan he's scrambled to find money for during the past four years. It could also help school districts pay for construction. Some local school leaders in the state have complained that discretionary cuts approved by the legislature and Easley have slowed school construction.

"I'm ready to hear some other ideas, like I keep saying. But a lottery makes sense for a lot of reasons," Easley said.

The critics, however, include his closest allies. Ward vocally opposed the lottery. So was Easley's top budget adviser, before he got that job. So are some Democrats in a closely divided state House. So is Easley's Republican opponent, Patrick Ballantine, who criticized the idea on a Chapel Hill-based radio program Friday.

Ballantine has argued that state-run gambling is unseemly, but Friday, he said a state numbers game wouldn't bring enough money to state coffers make a difference.

"I can take anybody off the street and find more than 1 percent savings in state government," he said on WUNC-FM.

The budget is officially about $16 billion, but Ballantine was arguing lottery proceeds would bring in less than 1 percent of $30 billion, the total the state gets from taxes and from the federal government to run its programs.

"I would say it's fraudulent to say that the lottery will solve all of our problems when it's less than 1 percent of our annual revenues," Ballantine said.

Easley's broaching of the lottery topic could help or hurt him politically. Several polls say more than 60 percent of North Carolinians back a lottery. But several political watchers argue that opponents are more likely to mobilize themselves and vote based on the issue than supporters.

Some lawmakers say Easley toned down his call for a lottery after his 2003 State of the State address, when the N.C. House voted against approving a public referendum on the issue. But Dan Gerlach, Easley's adviser who was an outspoken lottery opponent before joining the administration, said he expects his boss to push "quite strongly" for a state game.

"The people broadly support a lottery," Gerlach said, adding their "tolerance is getting shorter and shorter" of those who oppose it.

Charlotte Observer

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6 comments. Last comment 12 years ago by CASH Only.
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DoctorEw220's avatar - alien helmet.jpg
Yinzer Country, PA
United States
Member #4067
March 18, 2004
2741 Posts
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Posted: September 28, 2004, 12:24 am - IP Logged

i don't see why NC shouldn't have a lottery. they are losing so much money to SC, VA, TN, KY, and whatever other border states are nearby.

I've redone my website.  Go to www.dr-ew.com.  I kept a lot of the old stuff, and I've added some new stuff.  Look for more new stuff in the coming weeks.

    urbossmanpimpin's avatar - batman49
    Dallas, Texas
    United States
    Member #7272
    September 28, 2004
    179 Posts
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    Posted: September 28, 2004, 2:39 am - IP Logged

    yeah your right......which multi state lottery do you think they will go with once they do get one. I think it will be Powerball since all the South Carolina winner were from North Carolina.

      DoctorEw220's avatar - alien helmet.jpg
      Yinzer Country, PA
      United States
      Member #4067
      March 18, 2004
      2741 Posts
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      Posted: October 2, 2004, 2:47 am - IP Logged

      i think NC will opt for in-state games and scratch-offs first. i don't think any state will go the way of ND. only offering MUSL games and no scratch-offs was a stupid idea.

      I've redone my website.  Go to www.dr-ew.com.  I kept a lot of the old stuff, and I've added some new stuff.  Look for more new stuff in the coming weeks.


        United States
        Member #379
        June 5, 2002
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        Posted: October 2, 2004, 9:44 am - IP Logged

        ND didn't have a choice.

          DoctorEw220's avatar - alien helmet.jpg
          Yinzer Country, PA
          United States
          Member #4067
          March 18, 2004
          2741 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: October 11, 2004, 1:50 am - IP Logged

          why did ND not have a choice.

          I've redone my website.  Go to www.dr-ew.com.  I kept a lot of the old stuff, and I've added some new stuff.  Look for more new stuff in the coming weeks.


            United States
            Member #379
            June 5, 2002
            11296 Posts
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            Posted: October 11, 2004, 9:33 am - IP Logged

            ND is prohibited from selling in-state games.