Court Order Could Renew Debate over State Lottery

FEBRUARY 6, 2006 - Posted at 8:14 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The Arkansas Supreme Court's order to boost funding for public schools could bring proposals for a state lottery front and center again.  At least two candidates for statewide office are touting a lottery as the way to solve funding shortfalls, and a legislator and longtime supporter of a lotter said he may push for such an initiative during a special session.

Newly announced gubernatorial candidate Bill Halter, a Democrat, used his announcement speech to call for a lottery to pay for education improvements.  He said a lottery would raise as much as $250 million a year that wouldn't come from other sources of school funding.

Drew Pritt, a Democrat running for lieutenant governor, has also been pushing for a lottery, but he has so far been unsuccessful in his effort to place a lotttery proposal on the ballot in November.

State Representative Buddy Blair of Fort Smith, who introduced a lottery proposal during last year's regular session, is looking at the matter again.  He says lottery-funded education improvements would have addressed some of the shortcomings cited by justices.  Blair says he may re-introduce his lotter proposal if the Legislature meets in a special session this year.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)