Editorial: Live up to the original intent of the N.C. lottery

May. 24, 2013 @ 01:39 AM

The state Senate proposes eliminating the part of the law creating the state lottery that requires spending its proceeds on four educational purposes.

When the lottery was created in 2005, the General Assembly said that half the proceeds should go toward class-size reduction and pre-kindergarten, 40 percent for school construction, and the rest for college scholarships for needy students.

At the time, lottery opponents predicted that the legislature would be unable to resist siphoning that money off to other purposes – and they turned out to be right.

Now budget-writer Sen. Pete Brunstetter, R-Forsyth, says it makes sense to eliminate the legal language because no one follows it.

That’s an interesting argument. Let’s apply it in a different context: Everyone speeds, so it makes sense to eliminate speed limits.

Using the same logic, if a parent who is ordered to pay child support simply doesn’t pay it for long enough, the courts should rescind the order.

Brunstetter also argues that he thinks his fellow legislators would continue to spend lottery money on education. It’s nice he has such a high opinion of his colleagues, believing that they would continue to honor the spirit of a rescinded law even though they have done so much to circumvent it while it’s still on the books. If he’s truly that hopelessly naïve, Brunstetter probably gets stuck with the check at a lot of dinners with his fellow legislators.

The solution to legislators ignoring their own laws isn’t to rescind the laws, it’s to stop electing legislators who think laws don’t apply to them.