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Proposal would rename N.C. education lottery

Mar 17, 2009, 7:29 am

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North Carolina Lottery

Move in response to Gov. Perdue taking education dollars from lottery

Some state lawmakers aren't happy with where some North Carolina Education Lottery dollars are headed — and they're trying to do something to change it.

Mecklenburg County State Rep. Thom Tillis cosponsored House Bill 518, which would strip the "education" portion out of the lottery name.

Tillis said he and others formed the bill because Gov. Beverly Perdue said she plans to pull $50 million to $70 million from the Education Lottery Reserve Fund to pay for things other than education. He argues even if a portion of the lottery money is paying for things other than education, it shouldn't be called an education lottery.

Perdue recently argued more than half of the state's total general fund goes to public schools and teachers. She also said the reserve lottery funds being taken out won't stop school construction.

"I was assured it's not going to affect any capital construction project, there was nothing under way. That was a pot of money sitting there, and it's my constitutional responsibility to balance the budget, to pay the bills," Perdue said.

But Tillis said Perdue's move reduced the transparency of the fund to taxpayers.

"We also have an obligation to do what we tell the taxpayers and citizens we are going to do, and when we are going to say we are going to create a funding source that's dedicated exclusively to education, there's really not a whole lot of interpretation there if you ask me," Tillis said.

Mecklenburg County is affected by this lottery issue. The state wants to withhold Mecklenburg County's February distribution of education lottery proceeds, which would take away more than $5 million for the county.

Tuesday night, commissioners will vote to ask Perdue to find other ways to resolve its current budget year crisis.

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