One of the few things that folks on the Left and the Right have agreed on in recent years is that the state lottery is a bad idea, that it preys on low-income families and is an inefficient and unreliable way to raise money for the operations of state government.
A coalition of unlikely suspects from policy groups on both sides of the political spectrum worked hard against the lottery for years, managing to keep it out of North Carolina until Democratic leaders of the General Assembly twisted and bent the rules to narrowly pass it in 2005. And shame on them for doing it.
Since the lottery was created, the same groups that opposed its creation have worked against efforts to weaken restrictions on advertising or increase how much was spent on convincing people to throw their money away.
If you want to know why, read Sarah Ovaska’s report from 2012 on who plays the lottery and how it effects their lives.
Just a few years ago a Locke Foundation report rightly proclaimed that “Data confirm that N.C. lottery remains a poor bet for education funding.” The Civitas Institute and even Americans for Prosperity weighed in with similar views.
In fact, one of the items on AFP’s otherwise scary legislative agenda for the 2013-2104 session was that all lottery revenue be dedicated to school construction, a one-time expense, instead of on going expenses like teacher salaries.
Locke, Civitas, and AFP are right about the lottery. It IS a regressive, inefficient way to raise money and if we are going to have the predatory lottery at all, the advertising should be limited and the proceeds should pay for one-time expenses like building schools.
But the House budget doubles the lottery advertising budget and uses the money to fund a teacher pay raise. It is a terrible idea but unless I missed it, no one at Locke, Civitas or AFP, has raised even the mildest objection to basing how much teachers make on the state’s ability to convince people to buy lottery tickets.
The lottery was bad and regressive policy and hurt families last year. And it is bad and regressive policy and will hurt families this year too, even more of them if the current House budget passes.
The folks on the Right know that, they have said it for years. Too bad they are quiet about it now, apparently sacrificing principle for politics.