Update: Off the agenda | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Update: Off the agenda

Posted By on Thu, Jan 21, 2010 at 4:00 PM

The Arkansas Lottery Commission Legislative Oversight Committee met this afternoon to hear from director Ernie Passailaigue about the progress of the lottery and projected revenues for the coming year (which we outlined here yesterday).  The committe was set to discuss and possibly vote on "proposed rules for the Arkansas Challenge Scholarships," as indicated on the agenda.  Language in those rules would have set the scholarship amount for full-time students enrolled in four-year institutions at $5,000 per year.  Full-time students at two-year schools would recieve $2,500.  However the item was struck from the agenda.

Update: Read more on the jump including a statement from the governor's spokesman Matt DeCample.

After the meeting, the chairman of the committee, Rep. Barry Hyde, explained: "We got a call [from the governor's office] a few minutes before 1:00 asking to hold all but about three items on this list. So it didn’t make sense to move forward without those items," Hyde said. "I don’t think it’s anything that can’t be overcome or that there’s any great obstacle in setting scholarship amounts or clarifying how scholarships are stacked to comply with the law. We’ve been asked to hold as a courtesy and we want to cooperate. We’re going to hold for a week but we’re running out of time."

Hyde said it was likely the governor wanted to set the value of all scholarships at the same time, including those for non-traditional students and those currently enrolled. The item will likely come before the committee when they meet next week.

Matt DeCample, spokesman for Governor Mike Beebe, says they're just trying to look at the big picture. 

"Those are the same dollar amounts that we've been looking at.  What has come up is this list of 22 changes that are being proposed to the lottery bill and some changes that potentially go beyond that. About half of those items raised enough concerns to us that we wanted some more time to review it because, among other things, it could impact the size of the scholarships depending on what you do to that bill. So we just wanted tome more time to review the list and look at the items on that list and the potential ramifications of those items.

"We’ve been looking at the big picture all along," DeCample said.  "The governor’s concern is finding a way to maximize scholarships and make sure the money is there so you can keep that promise to those students all the way through their college career."

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