New Mexico lawmakers toss around Lottery Scholarship ideas

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SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Every year, lawmakers throw around controversial ideas to deal with the dwindling Lottery Scholarship tuition fund. Every year, however, it gets put off.

With five days left in the 2017 session, there’s a push for a handful of Lottery Scholarship bills that do not please every one.

KRQE News 13 has told you about many of them, including one that would make the Lottery Scholarship need-based.

Another looks to put all unclaimed prize money into the fund for solvency. One would extend the liquor excise tax so that those contributions keep up.

A different lawmaker wants to allow students a grace period after high school before they decide whether to attend college and use the scholarship.

On Monday afternoon in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee, lawmakers tabled a bill that would have set flat tuition rates for the Lottery Scholarship at $3,000 per semester for research institutions like the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University, $2,000 at comprehensive institutions like Western New Mexico University, and $1,000 at community colleges.

That bill is sponsored by Rep. Rebecca Dow, R-Truth or Consequences.

“Many of you were here at the time when the Lottery Scholarship was formed, and the emphasis was access, low cost and educational attainment for New Mexico students,” Rep. Dow testified to the committee before her bill was ultimately tabled.

The biggest push back on her bill came from universities like UNM and NMSU, who expressed concerns that their students would have to pay more out of pocket than students at community colleges.

So far, none of the Lottery Scholarship bills have made it to the governor’s desk, although a few have made it out of one chamber and into the other.

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