Knoxville’s Rep. Harry Brooks abandoned Monday the effort to pass a controversial bill that could have cut lottery-funded scholarship in half for an estimated 5,000 students.
“The thought is we don’t need to do it right now,” said Brooks after taking HB2649 “off notice” during the final meeting of the House Finance Subcommittee.
The bill, as filed, would have required college students to have both an ACT score of 21 and a 3.0 high school grade point average to get a $4,000 annual scholarship.
Currently, a student can qualify by having either one. Both are not required.
Under the bill, those who have one, but not both, of the qualifications would get only a $2,000 scholarship.
Proponents have argued that the lottery scholarship fund could be jeopardized at current spending levels unless the spending is reduced. But critics – mostly Democrats – noted that the lottery has recently had record sales and is now building up extra money while holding about $365 million in reserves.
The Senate passed the bill 20-10 on April 16, with an amendment that would trigger cutbacks only in future years only if lottery revenues decline.
Brooks said the soaring lottery revenue had “clouded” debate over the measure and prospects for House passage were uncertain, leading him to avoid a predictably long floor debate that would have likely ensued if the bill went to the House floor late in the legislative session.