Arkansas Politics

NYT: Lottery Sales Edge Up in Tough Times

This New York Times article is a few days old, but with all the lottery talk in Arkansas this week and the gloomy economic headlines, it’s worth another look: State lotteries enjoy enhanced sales during economic slowdowns.

Just to review a few issues in the Arkansas lottery debate:

Billionaire Jim Walton handed anti-lottery forces a $75,000 check this week to combat the ballot initiative, which is pretty generous, considering he could have used that money to capture homeless people off the streets and hunt them for sport on his private island. I mean, I presume that’s what billionaires do. Isn’t it?

Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who’s pushing the lottery initiative, held a news conference on Tuesday to announce that former University of Arkansas chief John White is backing the proposal. Capitol reporters pointed out that White had backed the proposal a year ago, and wondered why Halter was wasting their time with a news conference for something they already knew.

By the way, Arkansas Watch blogger Mark Moore dropped off an extended comment in an earlier post in which he argues against the lottery on the grounds that more spending on higher education is the last thing Arkansas needs. An unconventional perspective, and worth a look.

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One thought on “NYT: Lottery Sales Edge Up in Tough Times

  • Thanks AP for the “worth a look” but it certainly is sad that the slam-dunk obvious perspective that we already spend too much on higher ed is “unconventional” while the brain-dead perspective that we need to dump even more scholarship money into the system is “conventional”.

    Consider some of the higher ed stories we have had in the last two years……

    *They told us in December of 06 that they needed more bond money for (among other things) an “E-corridor”. We voted it down, then they magically “found” most of the money they needed to do it anyway. They had most of the money, they just wanted to keep that money and use even more of ours! THEN we got to “choose again” and this time with the help of “conventional perspectives” we voted to give them the bond money anyway!

    *UCA and UALR Chancellors started giving in-state tuition tax breaks and even some scholarship money to illegal aliens. This despite the fact that the legislature specifically voted down legislation authorizing them to do this. They backed off due to public outrage, not a shortage of funds. Clearly, they had plenty to throw away in 06 and 07.

    *One of the arguments used by proponents of letting illegal aliens get access to our state merit scholarship program was that some of the money was unclaimed one year anyway! So the achievers are getting quite a bit of money right now. Additional funds would therefore have to be claimed by relative slackers. I am even less enthusiastic about rolling my lazy carcass out of bed in the morning to go to work in order to finance their college “education”.

    *The U of A President is building himself a $7,000,000.00 mansion with taxpayer money. We all know about Lu Hardin and the bonus money, acquired real estate that was used to fete “special people” etc….

    *Scholarship money is getting so out of hand that the legislature had to pass a law limiting the percentage of a school’s budget they could spend on scholarships to 30%. Some schools are still over the limit, and now legislators are talking about bringing the percentage allowed down to 15% to get closer to the national average. In Arkansas, the colleges are buying their students and then claiming they need more money to build facilities for all their students!

    *Our flagship campus in Fayetteville now has a freshman class that is composed of 30% out-of-state students. They are considering opening a recruiting office in Dallas! Since they are running out of good applicants from Arkansas to shovel money at, they are shoveling it to young people from other states!

    *We still have too many graduates who have to go to other states to find a job which fits with their degree, indicating we are being taxed to train workers for other regions. Thus we already have more higher-ed infrastructure than we have business structure to go with it.

    The Higher Ed report on Education is full of the usual platitudes and bromides, but the facts they use fall flat. By confusing cause and effect, they presume that churning out lots of people with college degrees brings a good economy rather than vice-versa.

    Bottom line- this lottery is a rotten idea, we don’t need more money for higher ed scholarships.


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