Where does the NC Education Lottery money go?

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by By STUART WATSON / NewsChannel 36 E-mail Stuart:

Bio | Email | Follow: @stuartwcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on July 3, 2009 at 5:55 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 1 at 7:08 PM

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The North Carolina Education Lottery loves to promote two kinds of numbers -- the big prizes like a Powerball jackpot, and the big payouts to education.

They recently announced passing the $1 billion mark.

That billion dollars coupled with teacher layoffs has lots of taxpayers asking, where does the money go?

"Anybody who wants to know where the money goes can go to our website and click on 'Where the money goes,'" said Tom Shaheen with the .

By law each county gets money in four programs: pre-kindergarten, reducing class size in grades K through 3, need-based college scholarships and school construction.

But like a player expecting to hit the jackpot, critics said from the start the lottery was creating hopes for school funding it couldn't possibly fulfill.

"You know the lottery is perceived to be doing all these great things for education in North Carolina, and I think the evidence is clear that that's not true," said Chris Fitzsimon with NC Policy Watch.

Lottery critics like Fitzsimon say the lottery was oversold from the start.

"Well, that's the way it was sold to everybody and that's the only way it would have passed," Fitzsimon said. "If they would have said, 'Let's have a lottery just to put money in the general fund' I don't think it would have passed the General Assembly. It wouldn't have even come close."

The $1 billion raised over three years by the lottery in North Carolina sounds like a lot of money, except when you look at the state's education budget, which is $11 billion every year.

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