Education lottery needs solid plan

Published 11:25 pm Friday, September 24, 2010

Comes now Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ron Sparks waving the education lottery as a way to fund local schools and colleges.

As Ecclesiates says, “ What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

And so it’s true with the education lottery. In 1999 voters turned down Gov. Don Siegelman’s version of the education lottery. Many folks in the state believe religious groups and churches defeated the proposal. Certainly, the fundamentalist protestants fought hard against the measure, urging congregants to vote against the measure.

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But there were others who had their own reasons against the education lottery.

The key is this: If Sparks is elected governor he has to come with a plan — a detailed plan to sell the education lottery and make it work.

Too many states have said they will finance education with lottery proceeds, then allowed their legislatures to replace general revenue with lottery money or allowed state spending on schools to decline, leaving the financing of state schools to lottery money alone.

Any state that has an education lottery must use the lottery as a supplement to school funding and not allow schools to rely just on lottery proceeds.

Remember, most of the time lotteries are oversold during campaign times. They generally do not generate as much revenue for state education coffers as one might imagine or as those pushing the lottery might claim.

Sparks needs to get his facts together. Repeating “education lottery” like an election mantra won’t get the job done.

Alabama history has proven that much.