Alabama’s budget is sorely needing sources of funding. No longer can the state face more budget cuts, and Alabama’s politicians are unwilling to increase the state’s main tax sources.
The only way left to increase funding is through new streams of revenue — streams of revenue like a state lottery.
Sen. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, is proposing the state implement its own lottery, with 50 percent of revenue going to the state’s general fund, which supplies money for non-educational programs, and the other 50 percent going toward education.
Forty-four other states have a lottery, and Mississippi will soon implement a lottery after passing legislation last year that allowed it.
That means not only is Alabama one of the only states missing out on a stream of revenue that most states turn to, but pretty soon, all of Alabama’s neighbors will offer a lottery.
In a state only 160 miles wide, no Alabamian is more than two hours from another state’s border. It seems unlikely that the number of Alabamians driving across state lines to buy lottery scratch-offs and tickets is not going to increase when Mississippi implements their lottery sometime this year.
Let’s keep Alabamians’ money in Alabama.
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Tennessee, Georgia and Florida all have statewide merit-based college scholarship programs funded through their state lottery systems.
This means that each time a citizen crosses state lines to buy a scratch-off or a PowerBall ticket, they are paying for someone else’s kid to go to college, they are investing in the state next door’s future.
That’s an awfully kind thing for Alabamians to do, but it’s an awful drain of Alabamians’ money. Those neighboring states are essentially siphoning away dollars from the state’s budget.
Alabamians aren’t going to just stop buying lottery tickets. Almost everyone loves the thought of turning into an overnight millionaire or doubling your money on a scratch-off. That’s why it’s commonplace to see droves of cars with Alabama license plates at gas-stations right across state lines.
Across state lines, there are gas stations with large booths to sell lottery tickets, tables where you can scratch off your ticket or pencil in your choice lotto numbers and long lines of Alabamians eagerly waiting, money in hand, to buy lottery tickets.
These gas stations are designed to take Alabamians money, and we are letting them.
There’s no way around this, the people of Alabama are spending their money on lotteries, and with the impending implementation of a Mississippi lottery increasing Western Alabama’s residents’ access to scratch-offs, the Alabama Legislature must act now.
Alabama must implement a lottery.
Lottery systems are billion-dollar industries that bring in necessary funds to a state budget.
As students at a public institution of higher education in Alabama, we believe it’s time for Alabama to implement the lottery as a much-needed way to funnel instrumental dollars into improving the state’s education system.
Currently, only about 24 percent of Alabamians have a college degree — that’s 9 percent behind the national average. It is time for Alabama to make college more accessible for all. A lottery-funded college scholarship would allow for many in Alabama to afford college who otherwise could not.
Or, those dollars could benefit lower-level education, helping to increase educational outcomes for Alabama’s students with earlier interventions.
It’s no secret that Alabama’s public education system is lacking.
This lottery can provide hope for change — hope that some of Alabama’s poorest could receive scholarships to attend school, or hope that Alabama’s worst performing schools can receive the funding necessary to increase their learning outcomes.
Whichever way Alabama chooses to spend its revenue earned from a state lottery, it has the potential to drastically impact Alabamians’ futures. A state lottery opens up the potential for Alabama to create a new educational program that will bolster the future of the entire state.
A strong, lottery-funded education program will bring pride to the state. It’s a tangible benefit from a statewide program that Alabamians will fund themselves, in their own state, instead of driving across the border to fund some other state’s.
It’s time for Alabama to implement a state lottery to bolster its revenue and fund much-needed education programs.
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