One can hardly fault Republican lawmakers and Gov. Pat McCrory for firing shots at the N.C. Education Lottery.
McCrory used his State of the State address to complain about the marketing expense of the game and the obnoxious radio and television advertising that comes with it. He would like to scale back both of those efforts. Amen.
Republican legislators have toyed with a proposal to remove the word “education” from the game’s title, since governors and legislators alike have freely diverted education funds into other needs.
The money generated by the lottery technically goes to education, but when the normal appropriation for schools is hijacked for another use before the cash leaves the General Fund, the net effect is the same. Schools aren’t getting their full share of appropriations, plus lottery revenue, as the original legislation for the lottery clearly stated they should.
For all of the validity of those complaints, the lottery’s supporters, including N.C. Sen. Clark Jenkins, D-Edgecombe, stand by their game of chance. The lottery is working just fine, Jenkins told The Associated Press. It doesn’t need changing.
Jenkins has a point. The lottery is coming off a year of record revenues. And the N.C. General Assembly began its 2013 session with a small surplus of money – a stark contrast to 2012 and 2011.
But if you think about it, that simply means the lottery is doing a better job than ever of separating players from their money.
If the legislature really wants to put some honesty in the game, why not offer a new marketing slogan? “The North Carolina Lottery – creating more losers than ever!”
That probably won’t sell as many tickets as Ric Flair has during his occasional role as lottery pitch man, but it certainly would some candor to the proceedings.
The lottery might be here to stay, but credit McCrory and legislators for underscoring a few of its faults.