Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lottery Wars: Beebe vs. Halter

Arkansas Mike Beebe takes issue with Lt. Governor Bill Halter on lottery money.

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John Lyon reports that Governor Mike Beebe and Lt. Governor Bill Halter are at odds over how to implement a lottery proposal. Halter was the lynch pin behind the lottery amendment that was passed last November. With the session opening soon the topic turns to possible enabling legislation that is required before a government lottery begins cranking out tickets.

The Governor waited until the last day to take a position on the amendment, then voted against it on election day. Now the disagreement is over.......you guessed it, THE MONEY. It's always about the money, right? Well, money and who gets the credit for the money.

Beebe wants any proposed lottery revenue folding into existing state scholarship programs like, well, the Governor's Scholarship Program! Halter wants the lottery money to have its own scholarship program, and counters that current SURPLUS scholarship money should be diverted to the lottery scholarship program until the ticket money can build up.

What's that you say, SURPLUS scholarship money? Why yes, to the tune of 53 million dollars this year. There is already more money available than there are quality Arkansas students who want to access it. So why the need for a lottery dedicated solely to college scholarships? THERE IS NO NEED PEOPLE. That is what I have been trying to tell you. All either one of them can do with it is lower the standards so that slackers can get some free money for a while. We already have the U of A talking about opening a recruiting office in Dallas Texas for crying out loud.

Mark my words, if they pass enabling legislation they will be embarrassed, the amendment was that poorly written. Money will pile up in this fund while the rest of the state goes hurting. It will lead to absurd unintended economic consequences. The smartest thing the legislature could do is to not enable the thing.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Chuck said...

"Mark my words, if they pass enabling legislation they will be embarrassed, the amendment was that poorly written."

Consider your words marked. In the lottery wars, Beebe wins easily. He still has many allies in the Senate and Halter has few. You are correct that the lottery will be awash in tens, perhaps, hundreds of millions, while other higher priority state programs could be facing shortfalls. Tennessee currently has a mult-hundred dollar surplus b/c its legislation was poorly written.

6:16 PM, December 18, 2008  
Blogger DumbArkie said...

"All either one of them can do with it is lower the standards so that slackers can get some free money for a while."

You are absolutely correct!

Around 50% of Arkansas's entering college freshmen are required to take at least one remedial class. Having taught at an Arkansas community college, I can verify that number.

Many of these "students" only show up the required number of classes to get "their" money. Payments are usually dispersed twice a semester (at least where I taught). Like clockwork I could anticipate my community college classes losing 1/4 of the students the day after each of the two checks was issued.

The worst part was that my lower level classes always had a waiting list. Many of those waiting were real students wanting to learn, but couldn't get in a class because some leech was taking up a seat to "earn" a few hundred bucks.

7:16 PM, December 18, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is an outrage- one that will be tripled if they do this. Maybe people will be starving in the streets while all this college money sits there unclaimed.

9:35 PM, December 18, 2008  
Anonymous Chuck said...

Correction: "TN currently has a multi-hundred MILLION dollar surplus b/c its legislation was poorly written."

The lottery money will be there for slackers, as DumbArkie points out, who just want to get a check as well as those who truly wish to learn and better themselves. The middle- to upper-class parents (who value education) of kids who get a scholarship will be the real beneficiaries; a college education formerly was somewhat painful economically, with a return on the investment later, in a better job, higher salary, etc. But now, many of these remedial & mediocre kids will show up to get a check, blow it on a pickup truck and remain uneducated.

Anonymous: people won't be starving in the street. Our super-nanny federal government already takes care of those folks. They get food money, housing subsidies, medical care, prescription drugs, & transportation. Have I missed anything? Oh, I left out a free education, too.

The real tragedy is that millions of dollars will be spent on a lottery, money that instead could have been used to start or expand a business, or to get a meaningful education, and our pitiful percentage of adults who hold a college degree will remain low (even Puerto Rico beats Arkansas in this category - no "thank God for Mississippi" here - AR is fifty-first). I predict a lottery will not signifcantly improve that percentage. The only thing that will is parents who place a higher value education than athletics.

7:08 AM, December 19, 2008  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Chuck,

You assessment of the balance of power between Beebe and Halter is right on. I believe he is wildly unpopular down there.

Re: the Federal government making sure no one starves. At some point the Chicoms are going to quit loaning the Federal government money to give away. When the welfare checks start bouncing (or get inflated into near worthlessness) then we will see.

9:59 AM, December 19, 2008  

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