Lottery underwhelms

July 14, 2011 

The highly paid folks who run the state lottery are proud that it has raised $2 billion for public schools in the past five years ("Lottery sales are up," July 12 Under the Dome item). They don't mention that total lottery revenue exceeded $6 billion.

I say this is a puny achievement.

First, lottery proponents predicted it would raise a half-billion dollars for education in its first full year and a billion a year soon thereafter. Not so.

Second, lottery proponents promised that lottery revenue would not replace existing education funding and even wrote that guarantee into the lottery bill. That promise was broken immediately with initial lottery money being spent for an existing early school program and for school construction.

Third, lottery proponents denied that the new state lottery would exploit the poor. A survey last year by N.C. Policy Watch found that the top 10 counties with the highest per capita lottery sales match almost exactly the 10 counties with the lowest per capita income and highest unemployment rates.

Charles Heatherly


The writer is a former deputy state treasurer.

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