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Sen. Kyle Wants Action On Lottery Scholarship Funding Issues

Press Release from Sen. Jim Kyle, D-Memphis; April 6, 2010:

Senate Committee Failure To Plug Gap Threatens Future Scholarships

NASHVILLE – Democratic Minority Leader Sen. Jim Kyle of Memphis is calling on lawmakers to address an insolvent lottery scholarship fund after a Senate committee failed to plug a $13 million funding shortfall that threatens scholarship availability.

“This is the first step to reducing scholarships and denying accessibility for thousands of Tennessee students who depend on the lottery scholarship as their sole opportunity to attend college,” Kyle said. “This inaction threatens the ability to keep our promise to these students. The time to act is now.”

The Senate Education Committee voted 4-4-1 Wednesday on Senate Bill 3343 along party lines: Democrats for, Republicans against with one Republican abstaining. The bill would have transferred between $56 million and $91.4 million in lottery funds for energy efficient school projects to the scholarship fund.

Wednesday’s tie vote effectively kills the legislation unless the committee chair recalls the bill. The committee closed Wednesday evening.

Currently, the lottery scholarship fund will require the use of reserve money for a second straight year to cover existing scholarships. The continued use of such reserves could lead to a decrease in interest income that funds lottery scholarships – and a subsequent decrease in scholarships.

Kyle is urging lottery scholarship recipients to contact their state lawmakers to tell what they want done to shore up the scholarship fund. If the Education Committee doesn’t reconsider the energy efficiency funds transfer, Kyle will call for it when the 2010-11 budget legislation comes up for a vote.

“On our current course, we are going to leave state education officials no choice other than raising academic requirements and cutting both the number and amount of lottery scholarships,” Kyle said. “Lawmakers are crippling our children’s futures by sitting on their hands.”

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