Easier said than done

By: - August 18, 2005 5:21 am

Wilmington StarNews Online 

An Aug. 14 editorial was wrong to say that proceeds from a state lottery would be “dumped into the general fund.” As Dan Gerlach, a budget aide to Gov. Mike Easley, points out in a letter to the editor (below), the budget directs any future lottery profits into specific education programs.

But accounting semantics aside, the question is whether gambling profits would actually add, dollar for dollar, to existing programs, or whether state and local officials might take that new money and then spend less on education from other sources.

Mr. Gerlach says the governor insists that lottery profits “supplement education, not supplant existing programs.” No doubt that’s his goal.

But achieving it would be a slippery business. Voters in other states that established “education lotteries” have found that out.


August 17th, 2005

Wilmington StarNews Online

EDITOR: Your recent editorial, “What Honorables hath wrought,” claimed that proposed lottery proceeds would be placed into the state’s general fund and would be a “fraud.”
Your editorial’s claim that the lottery proceeds would go to the general fund is the only fraud here.
Gov. Easley has insisted that the education lottery be used to supplement education, not supplant existing programs.
The budget signed into law by Gov. Easley would require a completely separate fund for monies raised from an education lottery.
An independent Lottery Commission would run the lottery, and the budget bill dictates that its proceeds would go 50 percent to academic pre-kindergarten and reduced class sizes, 40 percent to school construction, and 10 percent to scholarships for needy students.
While I understand that this newspaper’s editorial board opposes the lottery, there is no excuse for this inaccuracy.
We cannot continue to be the only state on the East Coast where our people play the lottery and give away the proceeds to other states.

Dan Gerlach
Senior Policy Advisor
for Fiscal Affairs
Office of the Governor

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Chris Fitzsimon

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina. [email protected] 919-861-2066