RALEIGH: Lottery funding a major sticking point in budget battle - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Lottery funding a major sticking point in budget battle

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The Senate Appropriations Committee meets to discuss the House's proposed budget. The Senate Appropriations Committee meets to discuss the House's proposed budget.

As lawmakers continue to debate the intricacies of the chambers' proposed budgets, one of the major sticking points is the House's proposal to use money from the lottery to help pay for teacher raises.

The Senate is proposing about an 11 percent increase for teachers in exchange for them relinquishing their tenure or "career status." The Senate's proposal also eliminates half of the state's teaching assistant jobs.

On the other hand, the House is proposing about a 5 percent increase partially funded by increased investment in and ultimately sales from the lottery. The House proposal allows the state to double the money it spends on advertising from $17 million to $34 million a year

Tuesday, North Carolina Education Lottery Executive Director Alice Garland told the Senate Appropriations Committee that while the House proposal would allow the lottery to double its advertising budget, it would also put in new restrictions that would severely hurt the lottery.

Garland said the proposal restricts advertising during college sports games and also requires the lottery to disclose the smaller lump sum payments in its advertisements.

"All of a sudden, here's a billboard with a second box and a second number and what does that mean? And what's that telling me? Has North Carolina changed the games somehow? I think I'll just go to South Carolina or Virginia," Garland said of the potentially confusing ads.

Critics say the House betting on the lottery may not be the best idea.

"They're hoping because of the increase in advertising that the lottery is going to raise that money. But it's not assured," said Rep. Mickey Michaux (D-Durham).

The House has said all along, though, that it received assurances from lottery officials that it would be able to fund the extra $106 million for teachers

"The House feels very good about our budget," said Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake), the senior chairman of the House Appropriations committee. "We're very pleased with it where we go with raises for state employees, raises for teachers."

Even if the House and Senate come to an agreement, Gov. Pat McCrory said he'll be watching aspects of the budget because there are "issues" with which he said he disagrees.

"I will be very outspoken about areas where we disagree," McCrory said. "For example, cutting teacher assistants is something that I will not accept."

Later this week, the House and Senate will go to a conference committee to try and finalize a budget. The finalized budget would then go to McCrory.

If the budget process goes beyond June 30, there is still a budget in place from last year so the state will not be without a budget.


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Beau Minnick

Beau covers the North Carolina legislature, delivering valuable insights into state politics. More>>

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