House sponsor goes along with lottery scholarship plan

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The House sponsor of a proposal that seeks to cut some students’ lottery scholarships in half said Wednesday that he supports an amendment that would make such a move contingent on lottery revenues.
The original bill was scheduled to be heard in the House Education Subcommittee. Republican Rep. Harry Brooks of Knoxville delayed the measure from last week to give lawmakers a chance to review the amendment that has been approved in the Senate.
The original legislation sought to reduce by 50 percent the award for students who do not meet both standardized testing and high school grade requirements. A special panel of lawmakers recommended the proposal in November.
Under the new legislation, the lottery scholarship requirements won’t change if lottery proceeds of at least $10 million are sustained through 2015.
“I’ve read it and I like the amendment,” Brooks said.

Right now, students can get a scholarship worth $4,000 for each of four years if they either earn a 3.0 grade point average in high school or score a 21 on their ACT college entrance exam.
Earlier this month, Tennessee Lottery officials told the Senate Education Committee that the lottery has set record gross sales every month since July. Lottery education proceeds have increased 4 percent since 2005, with about $10 million more coming in a year. About $14 million is projected for this year.
Last week, lottery officials announced record sales of $130 million in February. They don’t expect education proceeds to drop below $10 million anytime soon.
For that reason, Rep. Richard Montgomery said he also supports the new proposal.
“I like that concept,” said the Sevierville Republican and chairman of the House Education Committee. “We can continue to provide as many scholarships as possible as long as we got the money.”
Others question the need for the overall legislation because of the solid lottery figures and the fact that the proposal wouldn’t take effect until later.
Sen. Andy Berke said the original Senate bill has been amended “to the point that it essentially does nothing,” but the Chattanooga Democrat acknowledged he’d rather see it than the version he believes would hurt hundreds of students.
“That’s certainly better than where it started when thousands of kids were going to lose their scholarships,” Berke said.
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