It’s time for Alabama to move forward with a lottery

FROM STAFF REPORTS | Editorial

Too often, Alabama has been behind the times of progressing forward, whether it be the major cities taking the next step in modernizing or different ways to improve education, roadways and other important daily necessities to become the best we can possibly be.

It’s not just on the government and it’s not just on the citizens, it’s partly on both, but change is a part of life and it’s also a factor in creating a thriving community.

I always go back to the 1950 when Birmingham and Atlanta were close in population size. Moving forward to 1970, Atlanta added 100,000 citizens and Birmingham lost 26,000.

A lot of that was due to Atlanta committing to taking the next step in the 1960s when they built Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium to lure in both the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta Braves.

That changed the landscape of the future of Atlanta and the state of Georgia, while Birmingham and Alabama couldn’t commit to the same step.

Now, again, Alabama has a chance to do something to help the state move forward, and it’s going to take a collaborative effort from the government and the people.

A proposed lottery bill has recently been put on the table by Republican Rep. Steve Clouse of Ozark, who said he will introduce the bill at the legislative session which begins on Feb. 4.

As the last state in the deep south to now not have a lottery after Mississippi approved it in 2019, this is yet another golden opportunity for Alabama to move forward and not lose even more revenue to people hopping state lines to buy lottery tickets in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi or Tennessee.

“We basically are surrounded now,” Clouse said.

And while the bill will benefit education, which is a smart idea, it has to be done correctly.

Right now, it’s a bill that Clouse says will fund the state’s pre-kindergarten program and also provide college scholarships. But what about kindergarten through 12th grade?

Right now, the lottery is estimated to bring in $166.7 million annually. That’s a number that in just six years would total more than $1 billion.

With that amount of revenue coming into this state, a lot of which is going to those four other states right now, the funds are there to improve education throughout every grade level and also implement a scholarship similar to what Georgia has with the HOPE Scholarship to help college become more affordable.

While the majority of lottery money in other states does go to pre-kindergarten and higher education, this is a chance for the Alabama education system to take it a step further.

But either way, it’s a step in the right direction. Giving more kids the opportunity to learn in pre-kindergarten and giving more students the chance to continue their education in college with a scholarship fund is a monumental step in the right direction for this state.

Last year, Georgia sent $1.21 billion to education funds solely from the lottery, and while that number would be smaller for Alabama, it would still make a major difference in this state’s progression.

Being surrounded by states that do sell lottery tickets, Alabama has no choice but to make the right choice this time. It’s up to the government to draw up the correct bill and the citizens in the state to vote for it and push this state to the next level of success.