MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WRBL) – Alabamians are one step closer to voting on a statewide paper lottery during next year’s presidential primary on March third. The lottery could generate 166.5 Million dollars a year for the state.
Senate Bill 220 is not an education lottery.
As it stands now, not one dime is earmarked for schools. Instead, this lottery proposal will repay debt, and then revenue will be split between the Alabama Trust Fund and General Fund.
Senate Bill 220, sponsored by Republican Greg Albritton, calls for a paper lottery and would allow Alabama to participate in multi-state jackpots like Mega-Millions.
“Overwhelmingly people I talk to in my district would like the right to vote on a lottery, especially being in a district that borders the state of Georgia. People want the right to vote on the lottery,” said Senator Tom Whatley, R-Alabama 27th District.
Folks who’ve crossed the state line for years to buy lottery tickets in Georgia have seen their money go to fund scholarships for students in another state. If the current lottery bill passes in Alabama, classrooms will not be cashing in.
Senator Whatley voted ‘yes’ in a 21-12 vote on the Senate floor sending the measure to the house.
“We estimate it will get around $150-$200 million a year. $178-$200 million prognosticating. Revenue would go to pay off debt and set up money for a rainy day account for General Fund to prevent proration,” explained Whatley.
At first around $184 million would be injected into the Alabama Trust fund to repay debt from past year budget shortfalls. Then, the revenue would be split between the Alabama Trust Fund and General Fund Budget to fund non-education state programs.
“Prisons and Medicaid have been big needs, in the past this year I know the Governor has called for $12 million to go towards hiring corrections officers. There was an amendment by Senator Orr, Chair of the Education Budget Committee, and a good friend of mine from north Alabama. I supported that amendment that would have split the money between the General Fund and Educational Trust Fund. I did support it, but the amendment did fail,” explained Whatley.
Senator Arthur Orr attempted to add an amendment to allocate 25% of the lottery revenues to education. Orr’s amendment was rejected, and Orr decided to vote against SB 220. Whatley did vote for the bill, and it passed.
The legislation now heads to the House where they can make modifications and send it back to the Senate.
House District 79 Representative Joe Lovvorn says while there are budget concerns with the General Fund, the people he hears from wanting an educational lottery. Lovvorn says his goal is to make sure all concerns are addressed, with any lottery bill, before sending it to the people.
News 3 will keep you updated.