North Carolina this week released to county governments $37.6 million of lottery funds designated for public schools that were held back amid the state's budget shortfall.

In February, Gov. Beverly Perdue withheld the funds from the public school building capital fund as the state faced a $3.2 billion gap for fiscal 2009. The money became available after the fiscal year ended June 30. The state passed a fiscal 2010 budget with more than $1 billion in new taxes and fees. A 1% sales tax hike went into effect Tuesday.

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