1.07: Lottery spending regs on
(Week of Feb. 19, 2002)
FEB. 15, 2002 - - As the Senate takes up a bill
on how to spend lottery revenues during the week of Feb. 15, negotiators
will be hard at work behind the scenes to craft a compromise on
how to spend the money.
They'd better hurry. If they don't come up with
something quickly, the House may take momentum from the Senate by
announcing its own plan when it publishes its proposed 2002-2003
budget toward the end of the week.
As it stands, Senate Republicans have been bickering
about whether to buy new school buses with lottery revenues. Many
of those supportive of Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler's gubernatorial campaign
want bus funding included in lottery spending; others say it's not
There are a lot of competing priorities for how
to use the estimated $123 million in recurring lottery revenues
and $67 million in one-time revenues available from revenues generated
from the opening of the lottery last month until June 30. [The Lottery
Commission infused its first revenue payment of more than $13 million
into state coffers during the week of Feb. 11].
What a compromise may look like. Legislators
are considering a host of alternatives. A final compromise may look
something like this:
- Expansion of the Life Scholarship. Lawmakers
are talking about expanding the Life Scholarship for college students
to the $5,000 range. Expected cost: $45 million.
- Creation of the Hope Scholarship. Lawmakers
also expect to create a $3,000 Hope scholarship for college freshmen,
which could be converted to a Life scholarship for sophomore-senior
years based on meeting certain standards. Expected cost: $6 million.
- Palmetto Scholarship. This premier state
scholarship for good students would rise to $7,500 annually. Expected
cost: $7 million.
- Technical college scholarships. Students
in technical schools would not have to pay tuition. At issue are
criteria and academic restrictions for students to ensure tech
colleges aren't overloaded with applicants. Expected cost: $41
million to $61 million.
- Endowed chairs. A proposal to fund endowed
chairs at the three leading research institutions to attract world-class
professors has momentum, but also has gained some opposition among
other four-year institutions. A compromise may allow four-year
schools to partner with research universities to "share"
endowed professors. Expected cost: $10 million to $30 million.
- Technology improvements for four-year colleges.
Also being discussed is a fund to provide technological improvements
at four-year colleges. Expected cost: $10 million to $20 million.
- K-12 technology improvements. There's
also a push in some circles to use some recurring lottery funds
to make technology improvements at primary and secondary schools.
Expected cost: $3 million to $8 million.
- Non-performing schools. Some also are
discussing using lottery revenues to fund teacher specialists
for schools rated as non-performing. Funding from some source
is called for in the Education Accountability Act. Expected cost:
Up to $10 million.
If all of the above programs were funded at the
maximum level, the state would need $187 million. If each were funded
at the lower range, the state would need $132 million.
Because there are more needs than money, there's
also talk of rolling in legislation to add Powerball games to the
lottery, a move that would provide more than $20 million extra in
One-time revenues cause friction. Perhaps
the most friction is around spending $67 million in non-recurring
lottery revenues generated this year. Competing priorities include:
- School buses -- $10 million to $40 million.
Senate Democrats and some Republicans say bus funding should come
- ETV digital conversion -- $18.5 million.
This funding is required for Educational TV to convert to digital
technology, as required by the FCC.
- Endowed chairs.
- One-time technology grants to colleges.
- Reserve. There's talk of a special reserve
fund for scholarships in case future revenues drop to ensure scholarships
are funded -- $7 million estimate.