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NC Justice Center Report Calls Education Lottery Failed Experiment

7:42 AM, Sep 20, 2011   |    comments
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Undated -- A new report from the North Carolina Justice Center is called "A Failed Experiment: How the Lottery Has Not Helped Fund North Carolina's Schools."

The report claims, "...the state legislature is using lottery proceeds to replace funds rather than add to the funds provided by the traditional funding system."

Read Report Here

The report compared the breakdown of lottery proceeds from last year to the 2011-2012 budget. It says before, 50% went to class-size reduction in early grades and pre-kindergarten programs for at-risk students. That percentage increased to 66.8% for the 2011-2012 budget.  The breakdown from the lottery confirms those numbers.

Last year, 40% went toward school construction, according to the study, compared to 23.5% in 2011-2012.

It also claims North Carolina spent less money on K-12 education in 2010-2011 than it did before the lottery existed.

"It's basically what those of us that were opposed to it from the start said would happen," said Rep. Harold Brubaker, a Republican from Randolph County who voted against the lottery.

"That's what happens when you don't put in the initiative from day one what the funds should be used for, for a dedicated source. Dedicated source of school construction or dedicated for scholarships," he added.

Brubaker called the lottery a tax on the poor, as does the report from the NC Justice Center.

NC Education Lottery spokesman Van Denton disputes the claim that the lottery is a failure.  He said that lottery sales continue to be strong each year.  Denton said every year since the lottery has started, the amount the state receives for education has increased.

"Without the lottery, there would have been 2 billion less for the state to use on education."

Denton said slightly lower sales towards the end of last year due to the tight economy made them be more conservative with their revenue estimates for the 2012 fiscal year.  He said even those estimates show a net increase in lottery revenue for the state.

The lottery has a full breakdown of where lottery money goes on their website: http://www.nc-educationlottery.org/about_where-the-money-goes.aspx

Example:  In Fiscal Year 2010, Guilford County received $21,718,581 in lottery revenue which was divided between school construction, More At 4, teacher salaries, and college scholarships.

In comparison, the total Guilford County school operating budget for 2011-2012 was $659,554,304.   Meaning if the lottery money was put directly into the budget is would only account for a little over 3% of the total.

School districts officials have told WFMY News 2 in the past that the lottery money does not go directly into their budgets.  Money designated for school construction usually goes to pay down bond debt.  Money for scholarships and the More at Four program also don't go directly into the budget.

WFMY/NC Justice Center

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