VOL. 127 | NO. 42 | Thursday, March 1, 2012
Dem. Lawmakers: Table HOPE Cuts
By LUCAS L. JOHNSON II
NASHVILLE (AP) – A report from state lottery officials showing record sales is reason to table legislation that would cut some students’ lottery scholarships in half, Democratic leaders said Wednesday, Feb. 29.
Tennessee Lottery officials told members of the Republican-controlled Senate Education Committee that the lottery has set record gross sales every month since July. They said the lottery’s education proceeds have increased 4 percent since 2005, with about $10 million more coming in a year.
A proposal from a panel of state lawmakers would reduce by 50 percent the lottery scholarship award – or HOPE scholarship – for students who do not meet both standardized testing and high school grade requirements.
Right now, students can get a scholarship worth $4,000 for each of four years if they either earn a 3.0 grade point average in high school or score a 21 on their ACT college entrance exam.
Students who attend a four-year institution and meet one of the criteria would get a two-year award amount under the plan. Those who meet one of the criteria and retain the award through year two would be eligible for a full award in year three.
The plan, which doesn’t apply to students attending community colleges, is estimated to generate about $13 million in savings the first year and $17 million each year thereafter. The lottery scholarship program currently has about $400 million in reserves.
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis told reporters outside the meeting that the reduction isn’t necessary because lottery officials are sending “a clear message that they can sustain the scholarships” and the surplus.
“I believe we have some people on this committee who are just against the lottery,” said Kyle, referring to one Republican member of the panel who called the lottery “immoral.”
“It’s one thing to be against the lottery, but you shouldn’t be against the school kids who benefit from the lottery.”
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