Gov. Bev Perdue on Thursday proposed taxing video sweepstakes games to fund the state’s public schools.
As the General Assembly prepares for what could be its final week of budget negotiations next week, Perdue challenged lawmakers to squeeze a new source of state revenue out of the sweepstakes games. “We need to tax the heck out of them and regulate them, regulate them hard, and tax the heck out of them,” said Perdue, a Democrat.
She said such taxes were not her preferred method of raising money for education. Perdue held up a copy of her proposed budget, saying that plan was preferable. But her proposed budget, with its recommended sales tax increase, was dead on arrival at the Republican-led legislature.
And now it appears there are sizable differences between the House and Senate on a state spending plan.
Perdue didn’t offer a specific tax structure for the industry, nor did she say how much money she expected the taxes to generate for schools.
The Internet Based Sweepstakes Organization threw its support behind Perdue’s proposal on Thursday.
“We are very pleased to have the Governor announce her support for the regulation for the video sweepstake industry across the state,” said Chase Brooks, the organization’s president, in a statement. “This is a positive step forward and we will work with her administration and the North Carolina General Assembly as this public policy issue proceeds through the Legislature.”
Perdue said she’s opposed to sweepstakes games in general, but stressed that something has to be done to stop the cuts in the state’s public schools.
“I’m giving them another pathway, another piece of a solution,” she said, as a gaggle of schoolchildren on a field trip snapped photos nearby. “The bottom line is they’ve got to fund public schools in a different way. There’s got to be more resources for our kids.”
But the legality of the sweepstakes has been in question for months. In March, the state Court of Appeals struck down North Carolina’s ban on video sweepstakes games. The debate moves next to the Supreme Court; meanwhile, video sweepstakes parlors are operating across North Carolina.
Perdue said local governments were already taxing the sweepstakes.
“As long as they’re here, we ought to regulate the heck out of them and tax them,” she said.
--Jane Stancill, staff writer