Three weeks ago, North Carolina lawmakers passed a budget proposal that essentially gambles on gambling.
According to this article in IndyWeek, state lawmakers approved a budget plan that doubles lottery ticket advertising in hopes of increasing ticket sales and providing enough sales revenue to fund a five percent teacher pay raise. The budget doesn’t account for the possibility of not enough tickets selling to meet this goal. The obvious problem with this plan is that it won’t work if people just don’t decide they want to gamble with their money; no matter how many ads you throw in someone’s face, it’s still pretty difficult to literally control a person’s spending.
The other problem is that NC education lottery proceeds don’t account for that much of the overall education budget.
According to the NC Education Lottery’s website, only 28 cents go to the education system for every dollar spent on the lottery. Of this 28 percent of all lottery proceeds, 45.8 percent goes to teachers from Kindergarten to third grade. Unless this five percent pay raise is only meant for K-3 teachers, this portion may very well have to be stretched thin. The site also states that NC’s yearly general fund for education is over $10 billion; the lottery raised $478 million to support education programs in the 2013 fiscal year, which is less than five percent of the general budget. It doesn’t make much sense for the state to make decisions based on funds that not only aren’t guaranteed to materialize, but are such a small piece of the bigger picture.