The North Carolina State Lottery has contributed $3.6 billion to the state’s public education system since its inception in 2006 — yet both sides of the aisle continue to criticize the seemingly lucrative program.
“The notion was not to supplant existing education funding but to add more funding for priority items within the education budget,” said Mitch Kokai, spokesman for the right-leaning John Locke Foundation.
Kokai said lottery funds were originally intended to supplement public education spending, but over time the General Assembly has replaced the education contribution from the N.C. General Fund — which covers most state sectors — with lottery-generated funds, to increase the government’s available budget for other priorities.
Matt Ellinwood, an education analyst at the left leaning N.C. Justice Center, said the division of spending within the education budget has also changed for the worse. Previously, half of the lottery-generated funds were intended to reduce class sizes, but today they are only maintaining teacher and teaching assistant salaries — while class sizes continue to increase.
Like Kokai, Ellinwood attributes the shortcomings of the education system to the legislature’s reallocation of the state's General Fund since the lottery’s inception.