Lottery scholarship changes on senator's agenda | Arkansas Blog

Friday, December 5, 2014

Lottery scholarship changes on senator's agenda

Posted By on Fri, Dec 5, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Sen. Jimmy Hickey of Texarkana, who's driving the train that seems likely to produce a legislative takeover of the Arkansas Lottery, also has a plan afoot to alter lottery scholarships.

He'll be introducing an idea to change lottery scholarships this morning along with the discussion of Camelot Global's review of the existing lottery operation.

Students who have below a 3.25 GPA AND a 22 on the ACT would receive payments only after completing their freshman year and enrolling for a second year. The bill provides for $750 per semester for students, up front, if they are seeking certificates of proficiency or technical certificates.

This change will be a big disincentive to students with lower scores and grades to attend college. In that scores so often track familiar demographic indicators — poverty and race — you can figure what the impact will be. It will move the scholarship program farther along toward being an entitlement for advantaged families, financed on the backs of the poor people who buy lottery tckets.

Here's the reality I see. The lottery currently operates under a structure established by then-majority Democrats. There's a new majority in town. They are intent on taking over, structurally and with favored vendors. Lobbyists for Camelot Global are closely aligned with the Hutchinson administration. Camelot did some similar free consulting in Texas that put one of its favored partners in charge, GTECH. GTECH has already made it clear it would be more than happy to compete for business if given a chance. Thus Hickey's intervention yesterday to slow consideration of a Lottery Commission deal to extend a contract with GTECH;s big competitor, Intralot.

Maybe Camelot can produce more money for college scholarships, to reduce the steady decline since the lottery's inception. Thanks to Jimmy Hickey, the most advantaged among us will reap most of the benefits.

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