Senate OKs lotto, 21-12

Published 3:02 am Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Alabama Senate passed a much-amended version of Gov. Robert Bentley’s lottery proposal Friday night on a 21-12 vote.

As proposed by Bentley, the lottery – if approved by statewide vote – would have put all proceeds into the General Fund. But the Senate passed it with two major amendments. One would put 10 percent of the proceeds into the Education Trust Fund and another put the first $100 million of lottery profits into the Medicaid fund.

The governor estimates the lottery would bring a minimum of $225 million a year to the state. If that held true, under the bill as passed, $22.5 million per year would go to the education budget, and $202.5 million would go to the General Fund, with the first $100 million allocated for Medicaid.

If Alabamians approved the lottery in November – and the proposed Constitutional Amendment still needs the approval of the House of Representatives – the revenues would not be available until some time in 2018.

That still leaves a gaping hole in the state’s Medicaid funds in 2017. Separate legislation making its way through the statehouse would use the state’s share of the BP settlement over the 2010 Gulf oil spill to pay off debts and help free up to $70 million for Medicaid. That bill has been approved by the House and is expected to be on the floor of the Senate next week.

Other Senate amendments to Bentley’s lottery proposal declared a “moratorium” on the expansion of gambling in the state, banned the lottery commission from hiring lobbyists, and forbade legislators or their family members from working for the commission.