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Tax, regulate video sweepstakes to benefit schools

edit:casino time:2019-01-11

Tax, regulate video sweepstakes to benefit schools

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Video poker machines seized in North Carolina in 2014.

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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Gov. Roy Cooper is at loggerheads with state lawmakers over teacher pay and school funding.

Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore unveiled the 2018-19 budget plan Monday, pledging an average 6.5 percent raise for public school teachers, a 6.9 percent pay hike for principals and $35 million for school safety enhancements.

Cooper wants to boost teacher pay by 8 percent and spend more than $100 million to make North Carolina schools safer. His budget proposal would fund higher spending by suspending a scheduled drop in the state’s corporate tax rate from 3 percent to 2½ percent.

Cue the tired, predictable ideological arguments. The Democratic governor bemoans big-business giveaways at the expense of public investment. Republican legislative leaders tag Cooper as a tax-and-spend liberal whose policies could cost the state job growth.

Isn’t there a win-win solution here? Instead of carping over how the pie is carved, can’t we just make the pie bigger, giving the governor a win on schools and the General Assembly a win on tax cuts?

The answer is hiding in plain sight, written in flashing neon letters: Video sweepstakes.

Those terminal-based electronic games that lawmakers try unsuccessfully to banish every few years are back. Actually, they’ve never really left. Police raids on sweepstakes centers lead to lawsuits, conflicting court decisions and subtle changes to the games that operators say makes them legal — or at least not definitively illegal.

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