LITTLE ROCK — A House committee on Friday rejected a bill to require that at least 25 percent of the state lottery’s annual proceeds be used to fund college scholarships.
House Bill 2263 by Rep. Ann Clemmer, R-Benton, failed in the House Rules Committee, which has no more scheduled meetings this session.
Currently, all profits from the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, or net proceeds after expenses and prizes, go to the Academic Challenge Scholarship program. There is no mandated percentage of gross proceeds the lottery must put into the scholarship program; typically, the annual percentage has been about 20 percent.
Clemmer told the committee she filed her bill because she believes 20 percent is too low. Nearly every state lottery in the country has a higher percentage of proceeds going to state government, she said.
"This was sold as a scholarship lottery, and we have a pitifully low amount of proceeds going to scholarships," she said.
Clemmer also noted that before the lottery launched in 2009, supporters projected that about 25 percent of its proceeds would fund scholarships.
Lottery Director Bishop Woosley testified against the bill, saying it would force the lottery to reduce prizes, diminishing interest in the lottery and ultimately reducing the amount of money generated for scholarships. He said other states such as Oklahoma and Louisiana have implemented minimum percentages and as a result have seen declines in ticket sales and revenue.
"This has been done elsewhere, and in every single circumstance this has happened," he said.
The bill failed in a voice vote and was referred to a legislative study between sessions.
The lottery produced $97.5 million for lottery scholarships during the 2011-2012 fiscal year.