House OKs bill that qualifies more students for scholarship

David Arkin

A local lawmaker’s proposal to change a portion of the Lottery Scholarship cleared a big hurdle on Thursday.
On Thursday, the House gave the OK to a bill sponsored by Rep. Brian Moore, R-Clayton, that would allow students who graduate from high school to sit out a year before going to college and still qualify for the popular Lottery Scholarship.
The legislation would also:
l Allow students who attend high school in Texas, but whose families live in New Mexico, qualify for the scholarship.
l Allow students who attend a two-year college to receive the scholarship for an extra semester. But the limit on four-year institutions wouldn’t change.
The bill passed unanimously and now goes to the Senate.
Moore said he’s not sure how the bill will hold up in the next round.
“A couple of people made comments,” he said. “We’ll see where we can get this. I think it’s a good bill.”
Eastern New Mexico University Student Body President Bob Cornelius supported portions of the bill.
“Although there are no statistics regarding how this change will better student performance in an institution of higher education, allowing high school students the opportunity to wait one full academic year before attending a public college or university may benefit them down the road,” he said. “Adjusting to college takes longer for some students and this bill would allow those students opting to wait one full year the opportunity to still have an avenue to obtain an education.”
But Cornelius argued against letting students who graduate in another state take advantage of the Lottery Scholarship. He said the Associated Students of New Mexico, a group of university student leaders that he heads, couldn’t support that portion of the bill.
“The purpose of the Lottery Success Scholarship is to keep students in New Mexico in the first place. This legislation encourages students to look elsewhere for their high school education, which in return encourages them to leave the state for higher education as well,” he said.
Moore said the portion of the legislation that would allow students who don’t attend high school in New Mexico to get the scholarship would probably only include a few families.
“There just can’t be that many residents who are in that situation,” he said. “This is not to have students who are attending private school in Dallas to get the Lottery Scholarship.”
Moore’s bill is not the only piece of legislation concerning the scholarship to develop this session.
The Commission on Higher Education approved a move that would provide $2 million worth of lottery reserve funds for need-based financial aid.
Cornelius has been outspoken about making changes to the scholarship.