Lottery bill hopes fade

David Arkin

With less than two days to go in the Legislative session, the future of a controversial Lottery Scholarship bill doesn’t look good for its supporters.
The bill, submitted by Rep. Brian Moore, R-Clayton, would allow students who graduate from a New Mexico high school to wait a year before going to college and still qualify for the scholarship.
The bill passed the House with relative ease, but is stuck in three Senate committees.
Moore said on Tuesday afternoon the bill was still in the committee process.
“It hasn’t moved,” he said. “The Senate’s been on the floor all day and hasn’t been able to get into committee.”
Moore’s bill would also:
• Allow students who attend high school in Texas, but whose families live in New Mexico, to qualify for the scholarship.
• 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.
Moore said he hoped to speak with Sen. Michael Sanchez, D-Valencia, about debating the bill.
Sanchez has been a long supporter of the scholarship and it’s highly likely that he wouldn’t be in support of changing the scholarship in a way that could impacts its revenues.
Those who oppose the bill say that allowing more students access to the scholarship could put the revenues of the scholarship in jeopardy.
Eastern New Mexico University Student Body President Bob Cornelius said on Tuesday he was pleased the bill was stalled.
“Rep. Moore’s bill took away from the meaning of the Lottery Success Scholarship,” he said. “The scholarship was put into place in order to encourage students to stay in New Mexico. Moore’s bill encourages parents to send their children out of state for their high school education, but then in return be able to profit from a scholarship set up for students who attend New Mexico high schools.”
Cornelius, who in addition to leading the student body at ENMU is also head of the Associated Students of New Mexico, a statewide group of university student leaders, said he originally thought the bill wouldn’t have a shot in the House.
“I am really surprised that the bill made it out of the House,” he said. “It sets a bad precedent. I feel members of the State Senate realize that, and hopefully they will let the bill die in committee.”