BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – A long-debated topic in Alabama: whether or not the lottery should be legalized.
All of Alabama’s surrounding states use lottery money to go toward their state’s education. Just like getting the lottery in Alabama is a hot topic, so is how the money should be spent if it were to come here.
“It needs to be money that is locked into the education trust fund so that the money could not be squandered or spent on anything else,” former Alabama governor Don Siegelman said.
“I’m going to do everything I can not to have it go to education because we have other needs that’s there,” state Senator Greg Albritto said.
According to the Nation’s Report Card, Alabama’s 2022 test scores show students ranking 39th in reading and 40th in math. Some people think allocating more money toward education, like what could come from the lottery, would help in turn raise test scores and improve the state’s standings.
“You can see year to year, there’s not much growth in the students there. So even over COVID, kind of over COVID, they have backtracked. They have not seen much growth,” Birmingham resident Alexander Watkins said. “I think it’d be great to see some tax dollars end up within the schools of downtown Birmingham.”
The Alabama Department of Education is currently working on its 2025 education budget proposal and the 2024 education budget begins this October at a record high $8.8 billion. Some of this money comes from the one-time COVID relief funds and money lawmakers set aside last session because of a surplus.
“We’re a poor state, so for the amount of money we have, we give an inordinate amount to education because those sales taxes and income tax were earmarked early on when they first started during the depression,” CBS 42’s political analyst Steve Flowers said.
While some think having extra money for education can only help the state, others think the money should be allocated on a needs basis.
“It helps get jobs. It helps progress society,” Grace Knapp, a Florida native, said.
“We can base it off of socio-economic status, educational status, everything that exists within that. It would have to take a conglomerate to decide where it would need to be distributed,” Homewood resident Greg Jenkins said.
Albritton says bills including a state lottery have passed through the state senate before but have never even made the floor in the state house.