The Arkansas Lottery is responsible for funding the Arkansas Educational Challenge Scholarships. Last year, the Lottery Commission decreased awards to students. Some students—those who entered a four-year college or university—saw their scholarship awards cut almost in half. The numbers for the lottery this year are dismal. THV11 reported on Dec. 3, 2013 that net proceeds for the lottery are down about $1 million from Oct. 2012. This spells bad news for students depending on those scholarships.
Arkansas voters approved the lottery several years ago amidst much opposition. Opponents claimed the lottery was everything from a tax on the poor to the road to eternal damnation. Since it’s inception the lottery was plagued with problems. Tax penalties cost the commission thousands. Lottery officials perpetrated fraud, see the Examiner article, Former Arkansas lottery goes to prison for ticket theft, for details on this incident. The lottery has been in financial trouble from the get go.
Many students depend on the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship to pay for their tuition. For students attending a local community college, the $2,500 scholarship covers about half of the yearly tuition costs. Cutting the scholarship amounts again in order to increase lottery payouts only hurts those that the lottery claims to help. My son is one of the students depending on the scholarship money to stay in school. For many, the alternative to this scholarship is student loans.
Under consideration is allowing people to pay for lottery tickets with their debit cards. The commission feels that this will increase revenue. In order for this to happen, both the commission and the state legislature have to make changes to the current lottery laws.
What the lottery really needs is good solid management. The excessively high salaries need to be scaled back. Cost cutting measures should take place on the administrative and payout end of the lottery. Leave the scholarships alone. They have been cut enough.
Lynda Altman has homeschooled her 4 children over the last 15 years and has 2 children in homeschool. She believes that homeschooling is a parent’s G-d given right. Lynda writes a blog called Homeschooling When Mom has Cancer. Get notices when this page is updated by clicking on the subscribe link, by email, or contact Lynda @fusgeyer on Twitter.