I owe you an apology, dear readers. Last week in my, perhaps undue but definitely indecorous, haste to work "booger-eating moron" into the policy discussion we're having here (did it again!), I neglected to celebrate the first birthday of North Carolina's Education Lottery. Yes, that esteemed institution that has already led to the criminal convictions of three people, has turned one. Baby's all growed up. But not as much as we were promised. The projected $1.2 billion in sales was actually $895 million and education programs are going to get about $70 million less than they thought. Old news, you say, but it bears mentioning as the governor's proposed shifting prize and education percentages to beef up lottery revenue.
It's also nice to get perspective from someone actually affected by this morass of rising and falling percentages and expectations. The Robesonian reports that retailers and school officials are disappointed by the reality of the lottery so far. The stores feel they haven't seen much difference in their business and the schools have seen too much of one. "
They say they felt misled when they learned that the majority of the $3.7 million they were supposed to receive during the current fiscal year would replace funding for the More at Four preschool program, and only the remaining funding would be used for school construction."
Needless to say, the fact that they're actually getting $400,000 less than they were supposed to is kind of a bitter pill too. How are schools supposed to create budgets for their next fiscal year when projections for the NC Education Lottery are always changing? It's bad enough that we're now in the business of getting people to gamble their hard-earned money, do we really have to gamble with children's futures as well? Of course, if Chris is right and the entire human services budget is expected to just $34 million over last year (forget the $200 million needed for the mental health system alone), I suppose the lottery is just as reliable as anything.