02/24/05 — State of the State: No new taxes, no lottery — do it with available money

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State of the State: No new taxes, no lottery — do it with available money

Gov. Mike Easley was right about one thing Monday night. He noted in his speech to the Legislature that the state must do more to ensure a “sound, basic education” for children in poor counties. The courts have ordered it.

But on how to pay for it, and on adding other expensive initiatives, the governor was dead wrong.

The state faces a budget gap of more than a billion dollars. With a mandate to add to school financing, now is not the time to continue aggressive spending.

The governor proposes that taxes be raised. We don’t need that. Instead, we need to cut them.

There is enough waste in state government at least to pay for the proposed $55 million-per-year increase in spending on low-wealth schools. The more we see of state government, the more waste is apparent. To allow that to continue, while extracting more and more money from those who earn it, is morally wrong.

So is Easley’s other plan for raising money. He continues to advocate that the state establish its own numbers game called a lottery.

This gambling scheme would be rigged to take money from suckers; otherwise it wouldn’t pay off. Such a thing would have been considered a disgrace just a few years ago. Even now, local, state and federal governments spend millions to put numbers rackets out of business because they prey on people who can least afford to be snookered, and on gambling addicts.

Such plots by states have become widely accepted, mainly because so many states have them.

That, of course, doesn’t make it right.

Some advocates of a state lottery say people have a right to gamble if they want to. That makes sense. Let them gamble against one another if that is their choice. But let’s not force all North Carolinians to participate through their ownership of the game.

The state budget should be limited to what the state can raise by reasonable taxation. We need leaders who have the fortitude to accept that hard fact, and to eliminate the waste of public money throughout the entire cumbersome bureaucracy.

This adding on and adding on and adding on to the taxpayers’ burden has got to stop.

Published in Editorials on February 24, 2005 11:22 AM