As Nash County commissioners and Nash-Rocky Mount school board members wrangle over how much money local schools should receive in the 2014-15 budget, listen closely for the sound of dollar bills blowing out of the Twin Counties and into Raleigh.
Those dollars fly west on U.S. 64 every hour of every day, thanks to the overwhelming enthusiasm here for the N.C. Education Lottery.
Before we break an arm patting ourselves on the back, consider the return we see on that grand show of support.
In 2010 alone, Nash County players spent $38 million on lottery tickets. Yet, in all of the past seven years combined, Nash County has received a little more than $35 million for education from the lottery fund.
That’s about $5 million annually, even though Nash County players easily spend more than seven times that per year.
In Edgecombe County, the return is even worse – just $18.2 million in all of the past seven years combined.
Meanwhile, two locations in the Twin Counties – Raceway in Tarboro and Church Street Convenience Mart in Rocky Mount – are among the Top 20 lottery ticket sellers in all of North Carolina.
The unfairness of North Carolina’s lottery has gone well beyond the shell game state lawmakers play with money that is supposed to be for “education.” It extends also to the way the money is distributed to counties.
Sadly, it would be difficult to convince lottery players in the Twin Counties to stop throwing away their money on a game of chance. But surely, the state should redistribute the money it collects on a basis that is more proportionate to the counties where the dollars are collected.