The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday May 26th

Gov.-Elect To Push For Lottery

Although Governor-elect Mike Easley is a vocal lottery supporter, some N.C. legislators harbor reservations about using the lottery to supplement state revenue.

During his campaign, a major plank in Easley's platform was using a statewide lottery to fund education.

In an interview minutes after his Nov. 7 victory, Easley said he will continue pushing for a lottery when he takes the governor's office in January.

But he added that the likelihood of establishing a statewide lottery in North Carolina would depend on the passage of a lottery referendum in South Carolina. "I feel like what happens in South Carolina will determine what the (N.C.) legislature feels it has to do."

Later on election night, an S.C. referendum lifted the lottery ban by 54 percent of the vote.

But Easley admitted it would still take some effort on his part to convince the legislature to pass the lottery.

"To get a lot of things passed, you need to go out and sell it to (the legislature)."

And some state legislators - such as N.C. House Minority Whip Julia Howard, R-Davidson - said they would support for a lottery in North Carolina if it is done by way of referendum.

Howard said she does not morally agree with a state lottery and thinks lottery advocates are looking for a quick way to raise revenue.

She added that relying on the lottery to raise revenue is economically unsound as well. To stay competitive with other state lotteries, she said, state officials would have to constantly raise the jackpot, which would diminish the amount of lottery earnings going to the state.

Rob Lamme, spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight, D-Beaufort, said Basnight would not vote in favor of a state lottery.

But, Lamme said, Basnight "supports the right of voters to vote for it."

Lamme said lottery approval in South Carolina will make the controversial issue a more likely topic of discussion in the Senate, when it reconvenes in January.

Rep. Alma Adams, D-Guilford, said the lottery idea is so controversial that it needs to be placed directly in the hands of the people in the form of a referendum.

She said her own support for the lottery would be based primarily on where the funding would be directed.

But Adams said she is not sure that the legislature will ever be given the decision of whether to put the lottery to a referendum. "Anything could happen in the General Assembly," she said.

House Speaker Pro Tem Joe Hackney said he opposes a N.C. lottery. "It is inappropriate for the state to be in the gambling business," Hackney said.

But South Carolina's passing of the lottery will most likely push the issue into the limelight, he said.

And Howard said she suspects the lottery would pass if it ever goes to a referendum, partly because supporters would tout it as a way to fund education.

"If it goes to the ballot, it will pass."

The State & National Editor can be reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.


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