Sunday, December 28, 2014

Lottery scholarship legislation among the worst of early bill filings

Posted By on Sun, Dec 28, 2014 at 9:14 AM

click to enlarge REVERSE ROBIN HOOD: Legislation would take from poor in ticket sales to give to richer college students in scholarships.
  • REVERSE ROBIN HOOD: Legislation would take from poor in ticket sales to give to richer college students in scholarships.
Stephens Media rounds up the early bill filings for the 2015 legislative session. Most have been mentioned here before. There's the Asa Hutchinson tax cut. There's more from the legislature to take power from the executive and judicial branches of government.

But I want to continue to spotlight Sen. Jimmy Hickey's bill to turn the lottery scholarship into a middle-class entitlement program and damage those the scholarship program was most intended to help.

Lagging lottery revenue has already prompted reductions in scholarship awards to the point they haven't kept up with tuition increases since inception. Now Hickey wants to save money by imposing tough qualifications to receive the scholarships — a 3.25 GPA and a 22 GPA. This means average students won't go to college. Oh, sure, if they find a way to go on their own and finish a freshman year successfully, THEN, they can qualify.

This is a tremendous disincentive to college attendance. The scholarships will go, in the main, to students who were headed to college all along. Test scores directly correlate to economic circumstance. Standards such as these will reward those who were already better off and punish the strivers who most need a hand. Given what we know of test scores in Arkansas, I think it's also safe to guess that the pool of lottery scholarship recipients will become much whiter.

A subsidy for the economically advantaged paid by poor people who buy scratch-off lottery tickets. This is not good government.

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