County Commissioners request “lottery education” funds to be restored
RUTHERFORD COUNTY, N.C. —At their regular meeting held on April 3, 2017, the Rutherford County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to request that the Governor and the North Carolina General Assembly support the allocation to counties at their statutorily authorized portion of educational lottery funds to be used for capital needs and technology.
In the commissioners’ resolution it states that lottery fund distribution to counties was drastically reduced to $100 million in contrast to the $208 million if the State had maintained their original 40% rate. RC in FY 2015-2016 received only $565,892 versus $1,177,055 if the State had honored its promise to use the funds for education.
Perhaps you remember the public relations campaign in 2005 for the North Carolina lawmakers to approve a state education lottery; lottery revenue was to supplement existing education spending. Funds would be used for services like:
- college scholarships,
- pre-kindergarten programs,
- class-size reduction, and
- the construction of new schools.
All of these programs were to be supported without reducing existing classroom funding. However, that has not been the case. The N.C. general assembly has pulled a bait-and-switch scheme by selling the voters that the money was to be dedicated to education and instead the legislators have been poaching from the lottery money to replace cuts in education funding.
Per the NC Justice Center finding in 2011: North Carolina significantly shifted the expenditure of lottery funds. The state legislature allocated lottery proceeds to replace fund cuts to education.
Until this year (2011), the general breakdown of lottery proceeds has been 50% for class‐size reduction in early grades and pre‐kindergarten programs for at‐risk students, 40% for school construction, and 10% for scholarships for needy students. The 2011‐2012 budget allocates 66.8% for class‐size reduction, 23.5% for school construction, and 9.7% for scholarships to university students.
Our representatives cut and continue to cut lottery funding for school construction. The schools actually receive less money than they did before the lottery.
The N.C. General Assembly used $26 million in lottery revenue to cover a Medicaid shortfall between the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years. Then in 2012, N.C. state lawmakers reduced the percentage of overall lottery revenue that goes to education from 35% to 29%.
In 2015-16, the percentage of lottery revenue going to education needs was further reduced to 19%. North Carolina’s lottery revenue is now being used to fund permanent teaching positions or “school support personnel” instead of bonus positions aimed at reducing class sizes in early grades.
Due to these broken promises on lottery funding, N.C. public school districts are losing more funding. School districts are being forced into the lose-lose situation of either having to raise local taxes to make up the difference, or cutting services and closing schools. Rutherford County residents just rejected a quarter-cent tax increase for education use that would have helped to bridge the gap.
The continuing decline in funding along with state mandates to provide specific unfunded services means North Carolina schools will continue to decline without intervention. The county commissioners unanimously made a resolution (see end of article for copy) to be distributed to the N. C. General Assembly, the N.C. Association for County Commissioners, the Governor, and each county for a request that lottery funding be restored. If you want to make your voice heard, you can contact the following:
Governor (4 Years)
Roy Cooper (D) Nov.2020
Office of the Governor
20301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, N.C. 27699-0301
Telephone: 800-662-7952 Fax: 919-715-3175
|State Senator (2 Years)
Ralph Hise(R) 2018
16 W Jones Street, Room 1026
Raleigh, NC 27601-2808
|State Representatives (2 Years)
David Rogers (R) Nov. 2018
300 N. Salisbury Street, Room 306A1
Raleigh, NC 27603-5925
Local: P.O. Box 469
Rutherfordton NC 28139