If the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery ends up earning more than the current $100 million it takes to run the program annually, how will that money be spent? That’s a key concern for state Sen. Jimmy Hickey, a Republican from Texarkana.
On Thursday he gave an overview of proposed legislation to the House Education Committee that he says would provide a structure for how additional revenue is spent.
"What we're trying to do, and I'm not saying that this is going to happen, even though we strive for it to, if the lottery was to make more funds over and above what's needed, and let's just say makes an extra $10 million, what we're trying to do is structure an avenue that this body will come up with on where they want to disperse those funds," Hickey said after the meeting.
There are a number of possibilities, he said.
"They may want those additional funds to go to first year students, they may want to make those funds for workforce development programs," Hickey said. "I've had members even mention that they might want that money to go to pay off debt of students that have already passed degree programs that are in high interest fields, so there's all types of different things for where the money could go."
Hickey heard concerns from several members of the committee, including Rep. John Walker of Little Rock, who said he wants to make sure additional money would only benefit students graduating from Arkansas high schools, rather than those who live in the state but perhaps attend out of state schools in places like Texarkana, Texas.
Hickey said it's still early in the legislative session and they are working now to begin the process of reaching a consensus among its members.