We commented yesterday on Rep. Anne Clemmer's proposed constitutional amendment to require that 35 percent of lottery proceeds be spent on scholarships. It's a lottery-killing Family Council dream. As a reader noted yesterday, the lottery currently only sends 22 percent of the gross to scholarships. The biggest chunk of the money goes to winners. About 10 percent goes to overhead, including retailers' commissions. Cut winnings, you'll cut play. Cut play, you cut scholarships.
I get lottery opposition. But if you want to kill it, do it honestly, not by slow strangulation. Lottery Commission spokeswoman Julie Baldridge sent a comment on the proposal today:
The Arkansas Lottery Commission works to maximize scholarships for Arkansas students. In Commission meetings and Legislative Oversight Meetings starting in 2009, the lottery staff has spoken publicly about the serious detrimental effect on lottery revenues—and the subsequent reduction in scholarships—that this "percentage" idea would cause. The current Arkansas business model for producing scholarships has worked very well, far better than predicted. One need look no further than our neighbors in Oklahoma, whose lottery sales and profits are less than 50 per cent of Arkansas's, with Oklahoma struggling under the exact same "percentage" policy that is being proposed. And Oklahoma's population is much larger than ours here in Arkansas. We have contacted Representative Clemmer and will be contacting other legislators about our concerns.