State struggling to come up with solution for lottery scholarship funding

Updated: 02/12/2014 5:34 PM | Created: 02/12/2014 5:31 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

If state lawmakers can’t agree on how to fix New Mexico’s lottery scholarship crisis, thousands of New Mexico college students and their families will feel the pinch this fall.

With a week left in the legislative session, there’s no agreement in sight. Lottery scholarships are swimming in red ink. Lawmakers will almost certainly find money for this semester – but next fall is another story.

Lawmakers are expected to funnel $11,000,000 into the scholarships from the state’s general fund, along with another $5,000,000 from the state’s tobacco settlement money. Gov. Susana Martinez says that will cover the scholarships in the current spring semester.

“But they have to fix it,” Martinez said in Albuquerque on Wednesday. “The legislature has to fix it for the long term and not just for this semester. We will not have enough, it’s not projected to have enough lottery sales for us to maintain this scholarship program at the level it needs to be to meet all the needs of the kids.”

The problem? Ticket sales are flat and more and more kids are eligible and tuition costs keep going up. With no long term solutions in sight, scholarship amounts will have to be reduced this fall to make ends meet. That means kids on those scholarships will have to come up with more money from somewhere else to pay for some of their tuition.

Some families are wondering about a special session of the legislature to deal with the problem, but don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen. In an election year like this one a special session just isn’t in the cards – you can bet the ranch on it.

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