N.C. Education Lottery commissioners celebrated a milestone last week: Total sales since 2006 have surpassed $10 billion.
It’s clear that the lottery’s staff and retailers are doing their job in enticing North Carolinians to play the games. What isn’t clear today, however, is whether the lottery itself is doing the job for which it was sold to the North Carolina public.
Prior to the lottery’s summer 2005 approval, legislators and supporters promised that lottery revenues would be used for educational enhancements in this state. Critics, such as the Journal editorial board, skeptically predicted that the money would flow into education but then be supplanted in the shell game known as the budget process.
The latest information from the lottery indicates that more than $2.9 billion has been transferred to state educational purposes — mostly pre-school, early grades, college scholarship and school construction - since lottery sales began in 2006. But, in the same time legislators of both parties have cut billions from state education spending.
Politicians on both sides are now debating whether the Republican-led 2013 General Assembly increased education funding. By one measure they did. …
We concede that education might be even worse off without the lottery, but we also repeat our earlier argument that lottery proceeds have been used to shift the responsibility for education funding away from general taxpayers and to those willing to buy tickets.