New Alabama lottery bill would send proceeds to education

in Lottery

A key Alabama legislator is sponsoring a bill that would allow voters to decide whether to establish a state lottery, something they haven’t had a chance to do since 1999.

Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, chairman of the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee, is introducing a lottery bill that would direct half the revenues to Alabama’s prekindergarten program and the other half to needs-based college scholarships.

If Clouse’s bill passed the House and Senate with support of at least three-fifths of the members, it would go on the ballot for voters, who last voted on a lottery plan with Don Siegelman was governor. That plan was rejected.

Mississippi is the most recent of Alabama’s neighbors to start a lottery and will begin selling tickets for the multi-state Powerball lottery this week, Clouse said. Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee also have lotteries, as do a total of 45 states.

“We’re surrounded and it’s to the point now where it’s ridiculous that we don’t have a chance to let our constituents vote on this issue,” Clouse said.

Alabama lawmakers have considered lottery bills several times in recent years, including last year, when a bill passed the Senate but died in the House.

That lottery bill would have directed most of the money to the state’s General Fund, not education.

“I just think the general sentiment is that it needs to go to education,” Clouse said. “All of the states around us have theirs dedicated to education except Mississippi. Theirs is going to roads and bridges.”

Alabama’s prekindergarten program, called First Class, has won recognition for its quality for more than a decade but needs additional funding to be available statewide.

Clouse said the college scholarship program would be available to students after they had applied for other scholarships and grants. He said his intent would be to focus on career tech scholarships to meet the state’s workforce needs.

The legislative session begins next Tuesday.

https://www.al.com/news/2020/01/new-alabama-lottery-bill-would-send-proceeds-to-education.html