Stripping lottery money causing uproar

March 4, 2009 5:22:18 PM PST
It's billed as the North Carolina Education Lottery, so why is the Governor taking money from it to bail out the state budget?That's what many are asking in the wake of Governor Beverly Perdue's decision to move $88 million from the lottery fund to cover holes in the state budget.

The move will take about $4 million away from Wake schools. While that's not much in the big picture, officials there are scrambling to count every penny to weather the economic storm.

"We find ourselves bracing for an economic hurricane," offered Wake Superintendent Del Burns Tuesday.

Burns told reporters Tuesday that he's preparing for budget cuts that could lead to 900 staffers losing their jobs. That has parents questioning the Governor's decision.

"My first reaction is what is she thinking, that money should really be protected for, it's the Education Lottery and that's what we're told it was going to be," said Jennifer Lanane, President of the Wake County NCAE.

Lottery money is for school construction. Governor Perdue said she'll minimize the impact on the classroom.

"My priorities have not changed. I'll hold the classroom and public schools as harmless as I can. It's a huge priority for me," said Perdue.

But some are skeptical.

"The percentage of the state budget that goes to schools goes down almost every year. I think that says something. I mean, if schools are the priority, why is that, why do we get a decreasing percentage of the budget every year? To me, that doesn't say that schools are the priority," said Wake County School Board Member Lori Millberg.

Now, some are taking aim at the lottery itself. Representative Paul Stam of Wake County has filed suit to it thrown out.

"It's the worst possible way to finance education cause it's basically a confidence game, a scam," he said.

Other lawmakers are defending the Governor saying she has a constitutional duty to balance the budget. And since the majority of the budget is spent on schools, they'll likely get it back in the end.


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