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Legislators propose reform to lottery

State legislators are proposing to revamp the way money from the North Carolina Education Lottery is spent after statewide scrutiny of its advertising practices.

Gov. Pat McCrory suggested in his State of the State address last week that lottery money should be allocated to fund more technology in schools.

“I’m recommending that we pursue legislation to reallocate a portion of money away from the bloated and frankly annoying advertising and the large administration cost of the lottery commission, and we will use that money to directly help our students with technology,” he said in the speech.

N.C. legislators have since acted on McCrory’s suggestions and proposed a bill that would expand digital learning in the state’s public schools. The bill currently sits in education committees in both chambers.

According to the bill, the State Board of Education would determine if school districts have improved students’ performance by 2016 and then allocate funds accordingly.

But Van Denton, spokesman for the North Carolina Education Lottery, said he fears reducing spending on advertisements would decrease the lottery’s revenue.

“The success of our sales depends on a good advertising program,” Denton said.

Denton said the decrease in revenue would take money away from funds for education.

The lottery is allowed to spend 1 percent of its total revenue on advertisements and up to 8 percent on administrative costs, he said.

But he said the lottery only spends a total of 4 percent on both advertising and administrative costs.

Critics of the lottery claim it exploits poor people who overestimate the probability of winning and are duped by overly optimistic advertising.

Terry Stoops, director of education studies at the John Locke Foundation, said that though he does not support the lottery, the bill would grant more flexibility to local school districts and improve the way the money is spent.

“I think it’s a good idea for them to move money around according to their needs,” he said.

Rob Schofield, director of research and policy development at N.C. Policy Watch, said both progressives and conservatives should agree on more money being allocated to technology in public schools.

But he said to be effective, legislators need to include similar proposals in the state’s budget that do not solely concern lottery money.

“If it’s an important priority, we all have to contribute,” Schofield said.

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