McClendon introduces lottery to fund education, Medicaid

FROM STAFF REPORTS

State Sen. Jim McClendon (R-Springville) plans to propose a lottery during the special session of the Alabama Legislature that begins Aug. 15.

McClendon presented details of the proposal at a news conference Aug. 9.

According to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Office, McClendon’s lottery plan will raise $427 million annually for the state.

The proposal could solve Medicaid’s $85 million budget shortfall for 2017 and create $100 million annually in additional funds for Alabama schools.

“It is time to let the people vote on a lottery,” McClendon said in a press release. “For thousands of families and children, the Medicaid budget shortfall is a personal crisis that we must solve now. This lottery proposal will resolve the Medicaid problem and inject $100 million annually in new funding for our classrooms.”

McClendon’s lottery plan would authorize Gov. Robert Bentley to negotiate a compact with the Poarch Creek Indians, allow electronic lottery terminals in Birmingham, Mobile, Macon County and Greene County, and create a bond issue based on expected revenue from the lottery.

Proceeds from the bond issue, estimated to be between $75-85 million, will solve Medicaid’s 2017 budget crisis, McClendon said.

“Every year, thousands of Alabamians drive to neighboring states to play lotteries,” he said. “That is money that should stay right here in our own state, to fund Alabama’s hospitals and schools. And let me dispel a persistent myth: Creating a lottery will not open the door to casino gaming. There is not one single instance in the United States where creating a lottery opened the door to legalizing gambling.”

If the Legislature passes McClendon’s lottery proposal by Aug. 24, the plan would go before a vote of Alabama residents on the Nov. 8 General Election ballot.