Today is the five-year anniversary of the founding of the North Caroline Education Lottery. When it was created in 2006, North Carolina was one of the last states east of the Mississippi to create a lottery.
The lottery was designed to pay for specific education programs, like pre-k and school construction. It passed by the slimmest of margins, with then-Lieutenant Governor Bev Perdue casting the tie-breaking vote. Now, it generates $400 million a year during a time when the state desperately needs the money. Education has suffered three straight years of cuts.
Alice Garland is the executive director of the North Carolina Education Lottery and says, "We’re not big enough to fill the hole that those cuts leave but we can make a decent dent in it, so without us the cuts would have been deeper and more severe."
Lawmakers have wrestled with what to do with the lottery revenues since it was founded. Republicans fought against its creation. Now that they are in charge in the legislature, many are proposing the proceeds go more toward school construction and less to pre-K programs.