SANTA FE — The House Education Committee voted 11 to 2 Wednesday to approve House Bill 147. This legislation sponsored by Rep. Jim Smith (R-Sandia Park) will bolster New Mexico’s lottery scholarship program.
HB 147 gives the New Mexico Lottery Authority (NMLA) the freedom to encourage sales through larger prize payouts by removing the requirement that the NMLA transfer 30 percent of its gross revenues to the tuition fund.
It protects students by establishing a $38 million floor for the tuition fund annually. This floor sets a mandatory minimum amount; if NMLA ever fails to provide at least $38 million to the fund, the 30 percent gross revenue transfer requirement will be reapplied.
According to the NMLA, while national scratcher sales growth increased by 45 percent between 2007 and 2017, it decreased in New Mexico by 21 percent over the same period. NMLA projects that removal of the 30 percent transfer requirement will lead to an annual increase of $11.3 million by 2023.
Representatives from student groups at the University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University, and New Mexico Tech spoke in favor of the change during hearing.
“The lottery scholarship program has given thousands of New Mexico students a chance at obtaining a college education. But with declining sales, the future of this program is at risk,” Smith said. “We must act now to save the lottery scholarship for the benefit of future generations. This change allows the NMLA to prove their projections. If they are unsuccessful, we will simply go back to the 30% transfer requirement.”
HB 147 has also been referred to the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.