(note: this is not an anti-lottery post; it is a civic lesson on state revenue. Bottom line: no state revenue is really slated for one purpose or another.)
Remember the line about the lottery revenue adding to the education budget and not merely replacing money already spent on education. Well it was not true when I lived in Florida (despite the fact that I got a full tuition "lottery" scholarship), and it is not true in North Carolina. From the Independent:
A five-year budget forecast prepared by the North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management states that revenue from the "education" lottery will replace general fund money that is currently funding class-size reduction and More-at-Four, the state's pre-kindergarten education program for poor and at-risk 4-year-olds.
Every year after the budget is passed by the General Assembly, the budget goes through a bond-rating review process to evaluate how creditworthy the state is. A state budget office PowerPoint presentation for the state's bond-rating agency shows that $62.5 million of lottery revenue will replace class-size reduction and More-at-Four appropriations from the general fund this 2005-06 fiscal year. A total of $66 million general fund dollars was originally budgeted for More-at-Four; $137 million was budgeted for class size reduction.
"All of the academic research shows almost invariably that every state that has a lottery for a particular purpose, the lottery has supplanted funds previously devoted to that purpose," says Chuck Neely, an attorney at Maupin Taylor who was a spokesperson for Citizens United Against the Lottery, an organization that formed in 2001 to fight Easley's push for lottery legislation. "It's not surprising to me that this has happened in North Carolina." He continues: "The lottery is going to programs that are already funded by state government. We thought from the very outset that the funds would just go for those purposes."