Kingsport Times News, 8-25-02, Guest Opinion Column By D. BRUCE SHINE Lottery is not the answer to Volunteer State's problems Tennesseans vote in November on whether to implement a state sponsored lottery. The campaign has already started with forces supporting the lottery flatly misstating where the money derived from the lottery will be spen t. Tennesseans are being told a lottery is the best thing for our public schools since free textbooks and the implementation of hot lunches. First, no money from the lottery will be directed toward textbooks, paying teachers higher salaries or improving the learning skills of K-12 students. The money will be directed primarily for college scholarships, with excess funds, if any, arguably spent on capital projects for education K-12 and pre-kindergarten programs. The experience in other states has shown the real benefic iaries of a lotte ry will be children of mid dle and u pper inco me p arents. The children of those who will purchase the m ajority of the lottery tickets will not benefit. Gamblers with household incomes of less than $10,000 gamble nearly three times as much on lotteries as those with incom es over $50,000 . A lotter y is bad econ om ics fo r Te nne sse e. Th e gam bling f orce s arg ue th e pro cee ds of the lot tery will provide h igher edu cation for studen ts who w ill otherwise be denied th e oppo rtunity, at no co st to Tennessee's taxpayers. In fact, lottery-funded higher education scholarships will place further demands upon s tate supp orted institution s at a tim e when Tenn essee public colleg es are o perating o n fewer dollars. Students at state supported institutions pay less than 40 percent of the cost of their education; taxpayers make up the difference. The lottery will not provide a dime toward that difference. Unless the General Assem bly, by increased taxes, m akes up the difference, state suppo rted institutions will have fewer d ollars to sp end on more studen ts. Another lie of the gambling forces is that Tennessee college students are leaving the state to attend college elsewhere, the "brain drain'' argument. It's not true. Tennessee is a net gain state in higher education. In fact, we rank 8th in the nation in net student migration thanks to King, Milligan, Tusculum, and Vanderbilt, to name but a few of our excellent private colleges. Tennessee's problem is keeping colleg e stu den ts in s tate a fter g radu ation . A lotte ry won 't halt th e bra in dra in. Lo tteries don't crea te we ll paying jobs . Tenne ssee's lottery propos al is a copyc at of the G eorgia pla n. Only 36 p ercent o f Geor gia stude nts retain their lottery-funded scholarships in their sophomore year, while only 31 percent of the 1994 recipients man aged to g raduate . In Georgia students need a B average for a scholarship. High schools have experienced, since the lottery, grade inflation coupled with pressure upon teachers to give away grades. Once in college the scholarship recipient must maintain a B average. The net effect for students is to take easy and non- dem anding c lasses to ma intain their lottery sc holarsh ip. The New York Times termed the lottery a fool's tax because the odds of winning are so small. The Lou isville C ourie r Jou rnal e stim ated a per son is sev en tim es m ore lik ely to be struc k by lig htnin g tha n win Kentuc ky's lottery. A pe rson ha s one c hance in 76 m illion to win the G eorgia B ig Gam e Lottery. Only 29.6 percent of Georgia's lottery proceeds go to educational scholarships. About one-third of the procee ds goe s to adm inistering the lottery and ad vertising to e ntice peo ple to play. Th e return to the state for sch olarships is sma ll, only 50 perce nt of lottery reve nue is pa id to those holding w inning ticke ts. Lottery dollars come from a purchaser's disposable income. A lottery ticket moves the purchase price from goods and services to gambling. If Tennesseans buy $600 million of lottery tickets, the state will lose in exc ess of $4 2 m illion in s ales tax re venu e and local g over nm ents lose $ 2.25 millio n. Ca n an in crea se in our sales tax be another "benefit'' from the lottery? You bet it can! Wh ile som e view th e issu e a m oral on e, that is not m y point. Af ter all the "grape has to uche d m y lip'' and yes, "I've inhaled'' tobacco. Lotteries are bad public policy. Alcohol and tobacco can be addictive and disastrous for a segment of our population. We have and will continue to pay a social cost for alcohol and tobacc o addiction . Now w e will add ga mbling to that cos t structure . The state of Tennessee does not encourage people to drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes. In fact, we actively discourage the latter, even though each addiction raises significant tax revenue. Should we, as a government, encourage people to gamble just to raise revenue? You ca n driv e with in m inute s to W ebe r City a nd bu y a lotte ry tick et. Ye s, so me Ten nes sea ns w ill gamble in Virginia when we reject the lottery. The social costs are all negative for Virginia as well. When the L otter y Fairy Q uee n rea ds th e win ning n um bers she w on't te ll you 29 perc ent o f the lo ttery tic kets in Virginia are sold to jus t two perc ent of its ad ult population . A lottery is bad economics, poor social policy and a fool's tax. If adopted, Tennessee will be encouraging young peop le to believe that one need not work hard, save m oney and provide, by their hard work, for their family. A rainbow alternative for declining state revenue does not exist in the lottery. And, no, public education won't be an instant winner. Unfortunately, adoption of the lottery would make Tenn essee an instan t loser - big tim e. D. Bruce Shine, a Kingsport attorney, served as chairman of the board of trustees, Tusculum College; trustee, Hiwassee College; and is general counsel, Tennessee Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO. hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Kingsport Times News, 8-25-02, Guest Opinion Column by Sen. SteveCohen Tuition increases at state colleges and universities hurt Tennessee and Tennesseans. Tuition has been rising steadily for several years, putting a greater burden on students and families and, sometimes, ending or postponing dream s of higher education. The legislature's budget "fix,'' while necessary to ensure that citizens continued to receive state services, including education, is only temporary and does not address what is a structural problem in the state's revenue system. The General Assembly will soon be forced to return to the issue because our inelastic revenue system does not keep pace with inflation and econo mic gr owth. The passage of the lottery referendum and institution of a lottery will provide Tennesseans with relief through lottery-funded scholarships and will have a positive impact on Tennessee's overall tax structure. For years, Tennesseans have been crossing state lines to buy lottery tickets and spending money on non- lottery items wh ile in other states. A Tennessee lottery will help to reverse this tax seepage as lottery players fro m ne ighboring states he lp to enrich o ur state's c offers w hen they m ake no n-lottery purc hases . A lottery-fund ed sch olarship p rogram will produce a better-e ducate d, less de bt-ridden society. Tennessee's lottery proposal is based on the phenomenally successful Georgia HOPE program (an acro nym for H elping Outs tand ing P upils E duc ation ally). A T enn ess ee lot tery's n et pro cee ds w ill supplem ent, not su pplant, ex isting reso urces f or new a nd spe cific educ ational purp oses a nd prog ram s. Georgia's HOPE was the nation's first program of its kind and provides tuition, mandatory fees and $300 per s cho ol year book allowa nce to Ge orgia stud ents with a B ave rage in a de gree prog ram at Ge orgia pub lic colle ges , unive rsities and t ech nica l institu tes. H OP E pro vides a $3, 000 sch olars hip pe r aca dem ic year to students attending Georgia private colleges and universities. Technical institute students in a certif icate or dip lom a pro gram with le ss th an a B aver age ma y rece ive H OP E fun ds if th ey m ainta in satisfactory academic progres s. Since its inception in 1993, Georgia's HOPE pro gram has provided more than $5 billion for education, with $1.6 billion for HOPE Scho larships, $1.6 billion for Georgia's Pre-K program, and $ 1.78 billion for capital outlay and technology. In 1997, the Tennessee Ad visory Comm ission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) estimated that a Tennessee lottery would net the state over $300 million. Tennessee will probably have $150 million each for college/technical school sch olars hips and p re-k inder garte n pro gram s. Te nne sse e cur rently p rovid es on ly $25- 30 m illion an nua lly for need -based college sc holarsh ips and a pproxim ately $6 m illion for pre-k inderga rten. The HOPE program has resulted in better grades and higher objective test scores for high school students who are working toward receiving HOPE scholarships because they must achieve good grades to receive a scholarship as well as better grades for college students wishing to maintain their HOPE scholarships. Before the HOPE scholarship program began, only 25 percent of Georgia students who scored 1500 or better on the SAT attended Georgia schools; now 75 percent attend Georgia schools. SAT scores in Georg ia have rise n 11 per cent sinc e HO PE beg an. In Tennessee, students whose parents cannot afford to pay for tuition either in whole or in part must usually resort to working while attending school and/or incurring student loans. Students who m ust work while attending school have a more difficult time achieving academic excellence as well as completing their college educa tion. Stude nts who mus t incur deb t to attend c ollege star t their caree rs at a disadva ntage. O ne of the largest de bts m ost young people h ave is rep aying college loans. A scholarship program funded by state lottery proceeds would relieve such financial burdens and would perm it stude nts to e me rge fro m c ollege w ithout d ebt. T he ec onom ic imp act fro m b eginn ing one 's career debt-free cannot be overstated in terms of the long term benefits it provides individuals as well as our econom y. Young people without debt have more disposable income a s well as a greater ability to save for their futu res, includ ing hom e owne rship and retirem ent. Of course, the educational needs of Tennessee's children begin long before high school and college. A Tennessee State Board of Education staff report released in February and approved by the Tennessee Higher Education Comm ission includes the goal of providing early childhood education programs. Res earc h has show n tha t early c hildho od ed uca tion le ads to long -term suc ces s ac ade mic ally as w ell as in all phase s of life. Early education can help stem such economic and social plagues as dropping out of school, teen pregnancy, drug use, and crime. Children who are nurtured early in life have a remarkably better chance of success later in life. While Tennessee spends just $6 million per year for pre-kindergarten programs which benefits only 1,200 students, Georgia spends more than $200 million to provide more than 60,000 children a great star t. For about two decades polls have shown that a vast majority of Tennesseans want a state lottery. The approval of the lottery with revenue going to college scholarships and pre-kindergarten programs will be a win-w in for T enn ess ee. T enn ess ean s will be able to enjo y the re crea tion o f a lotte ry, as is curr ently enjoyed b y the citizens of 37 other states, with the reven ue directly be nefiting ou r children. Sen. Cohen, D-Memphis, represents District 30, part of Shelby County. He may be reached at sen.ste phen.c ohen@ legislature.s tate.tn.us.
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