UNM students fight cuts to Lottery Scholarship
January 22, 2018 07:23 PM
SANTA FE, N.M. -- University of New Mexico students are fighting back against a proposal making its way through the Roundhouse, saying it would significantly cut funding to the state's Lottery Scholarship.
The New Mexico Lottery has to give 30 percent of what it makes to the Lottery Scholarship program, but House Bill 147 would change that. If it passes, the lottery would be required to give $38 million a year to scholarships instead of 30 percent of its revenue.
"The New Mexico Lottery Scholarship has helped thousands of New Mexico’s students achieve their dream of getting a college education. However, lottery sales are down, and if we don’t do something now, the future of this valuable program is in jeopardy," said state Rep. Jim Smith, R-Sandia Park, who sponsored the bill.
But Noah Brooks, UNM's student body president, said that would mean less money for students.
"The current bill would decrease the average amount of money that is going into the lottery foundation for the last five years," he said. "For the last five years, the average has been $42 million dollars per year and this would cut it down significantly."
Brooks said the Lottery Scholarship was already cut 30 percent last year, and students who rely on the scholarship say they can't handle another cut.
"So what concerns me with that is that the $38 million that they're proposing is less than the average amount of money that we've been receiving," Brooks said. "So that would mean that students are going to be receiving less money. And if we have less money in the lottery foundation, then more students are going to drop out. And if more students drop out, then the tuitions are going to have to go up at the university to keep it running."
Student leaders from around the state are set to meet with representatives from the lottery at the Roundhouse Tuesday to voice their concerns.
Officials say that by alleviating the mandate, the lottery will be able to offer more prizes and thereby attract more players. In theory, that would increase dollars for students.
"NMLA has asserted that it could make more money for scholarships if it were given the type of flexibility provided in HB 147," Smith said. "My bill gives them a chance to prove their argument, but if they cannot deliver, then we will go back to the 30 percent rule."
Created: January 22, 2018 07:23 PM
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