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Comedian John Oliver took on (and sunk) the idea that state lotteries responsibly and effectively fund public education, when he focused on state lotteries this weekend on his HBO show, “Last Week Tonight.”

North Carolina’s education lottery got a substantial mention (at the 11:30 minute mark) when Oliver pointed out North Carolina spends less per pupil today then it did when the lottery started in 2006.

Take a look here.

 

And if you’d like to walk down memory lane with some of the reporting N.C Policy Watch has done on the state lottery, you can click here to read a 2012 report about how per capita lottery sales spike in some of the state’s poorest counties.

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If you’re trying to get up to speed on this week’s colorful and cantankerous state budget negotiations, here are three quick takeaways:

Budget conferees are expected to meet again today, though an exact time has not been announced. The NC House goes into session at 11:00 a.m., the Senate at 2:00 p.m.

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This morning’s edition of Setting the record straight over on the main Policy Watch website has some rare praise for the surprisingly progressive rhetoric emanating from state budget negotiations this week. But it also takes lawmakers to task for their failure to seize upon the most obvious solution to their inability to find a way to fund the essential services (i.e. teachers and health care) that they have prioritized. The best answer to the General Assembly’s budget dilemma, of course, is to halt next January’s scheduled tax cut that will primarily benefit the rich:

“According to the best and most recent estimates, the 2013 tax cuts – which overwhelmingly favor the state’s most wealthy taxpayers – are costing the state more than $500 million in foregone revenue in the fiscal year that began last week. Add to this the fact that the cuts have caused a downward revision of revenue projections by another $190 million and the gap may well balloon to more than $700 million.

Even if lawmakers left these cuts in place, however, and merely stopped the implementation of a yet another round of tax cuts scheduled to take effect next January, the state would still realize $300 million in additional revenue in calendar year 2015 – more than enough to make a significant dent in the education shortfall and solve innumerable problems in the current negotiations.”

Meanwhile, this morning’s lead editorial in the Charlotte Observer has another quick fix proposal — at least on teacher pay: Read More

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ICYMI, Keith Larson of WBT radio in Charlotte has an entertaining post in the Charlotte Observer on the House lottery scheme entitled “Some of the nuttiest words I’ve typed in 12 years here.” As Larson notes:

“House Republicans want to give teachers their raise by doubling the advertising budget for the so-called Education Lottery. Yes, I actually typed those words. They are some of the most downright nutty words to come my way in 12 years here but they are true. And you actually did just read them. If they are not some of the most downright nutty words you’ve ever read, then you’re reading really funny stuff.

Read More

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The House plan to fund teacher raises with increased lottery revenues continues to meet with widespread derision. ICYMI, the Greensboro News & Record weighed in over the weekend:

“When it comes to raising teacher pay, the state House has almost trumped the Senate for bad ideas.

The Senate offers 11 percent salary hikes, on average, but only for teachers who surrender tenure rights. And about half of the money comes from laying off thousands of teacher assistants.

The House provides 5 percent raises with no strings attached and without eliminating teacher assistants. Unfortunately, to pay for it, the House bets that the state lottery can pull in an additional $106 million next year. To make that happen, it authorizes the Lottery Commission to double its spending on advertising.

What a lesson for our children.

The trouble is, the lottery appeals most strongly to people who can least afford to pay. Furthermore, it provides an unreliable revenue stream. When North Carolina’s participation in a state lottery was debated in 2005, opponents used both arguments. And nearly all Republicans in the legislature voted against it. But Democrats were in the majority then, and they enacted the lottery.

Now, not only do Republican House leaders aim to rely on lottery revenue to fund an ongoing obligation — teacher salaries — they want to drum up more of it….”

Read the rest of the editorial by clicking here.