Jerry's Blog

Arkansas Lottery Scholarship Funding to Hit All-Time Low in 2015

Since the Arkansas Lottery’s inception, we have written over and over again about the paltry percent of gross revenue the Arkansas Lottery Commission awards for college scholarships.

When the Arkansas Lottery began five years ago this month, we calculated that only about 22% of lottery revenue went to students. The rest went somewhere else. That meant if you bought a $1 lottery ticket, only 22 cents of that dollar went to scholarships. At the time, that was the third-lowest percentage in the nation.

Despite efforts by lawmakers to require the Arkansas Lottery to set aside a minimum percentage of its revenue for students, lottery officials continued reducing that percentage of gross revenue. We have seen the percentage allocated for scholarships drop all the way from 22 cents on the dollar to 19.8 cents on the dollar (last year).

Now the Arkansas Lottery Commission has reduced it again, with only 18.76% of gross revenue going to scholarships.

Under its budget for 2015, the Arkansas Lottery hopes to take in about $416,770,000 in gross revenue, and it hopes to pay out $78,185,000 in scholarships. That means for the first time ever, lottery scholarships will receive less than 19% of the Arkansas Lottery’s total revenue.

Just to put those numbers in perspective, Louisiana requires its lottery to allocate at least 35% of lottery revenue for education. That’s how the Louisiana lottery paid out tens of millions of dollar more in education funding than Arkansas’ did despite taking in nearly $100 million less.

It isn’t just Louisiana, either. Many state lotteries set aside at least 25% – 30% for education funding.

People keep talking about trying to bolster lottery ticket sales to improve scholarship funding, but when your lottery isn’t required to set aside a minimum percentage of its revenue for scholarships, there’s no guarantee soaring ticket sales will do any good for Arkansas’ students. After all, the way the law is currently written, the Lottery Commission could approve a budget that pays $0 for scholarships. It’s all up to them.

The Arkansas “Scholarship” Lottery continues cutting its scholarship budget and refusing to set aside even an average percentage of its revenue for education. That’s simply unacceptable.

Mayor’s Actions Elevate Chamber Above Church

Friday, August 29, 2014

On Friday, the Mayor of Fayetteville announced the establishment of a ten-member advisory board at the request of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce to receive input on the city’s controversial nondiscrimination ordinance passed on August 20.

Family Council President Jerry Cox released a statement, saying, “This is very troubling. Here you have an ordinance that is extremely unpopular and that citizens are actively working to repeal. Now that it has passed, the mayor says he is open to input, not because of concerns over public safety or religious liberties, but because the local Chamber of Commerce sent him a letter.”

Cox questioned why the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce waited until after the ordinance passed to make its concerns known. “This ordinance was no secret. It was read and discussed at three separate City Council meetings. One of those meetings lasted nine hours. Hundreds of citizens and church leaders came out to voice their concerns about the ordinance, but most of those concerns were ignored. The council passed the ordinance. If the Chamber of Commerce had concerns about ambiguities in the ordinance, they should have made those concerns known before it passed.”

Cox said the mayor’s actions send the wrong message to local residents. “There’s little doubt in my mind this ordinance is bad for business, but the message the mayor is sending is that business leaders get special treatment other citizens do not get. They get a second chance to speak on the ordinance. I really wonder if the mayor would be doing this if the request had come from anyone else.”

Cox said this latest situation highlights some of the unintended consequences his group has discussed concerning the ordinance. “We said this would expand government and create unforeseen problems for the City of Fayetteville. That’s what is happening here. This is just one controversy Chapter 119 has caused, and the ordinance hasn’t even been engrossed into the city code yet.”


Polygamists Win in Court Using Trail Blazed by Same-Sex Marriage

Last December U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups issued a ruling effectively decriminalizing polygamy in Utah.

Under Utah law, a person may not file for more than one marriage license or cohabit with more than one “spouse.” The law is intended to prevent both state-recognized polygamy and the unofficial polygamy practiced by some people in which a man is legally married to one woman, but has other “wives” to which he is not legally married.

Kody Brown and his wives, stars of the reality TV show “Sister Wives” depicting their polygamous lifestyle, filed suit against the State of Utah over the law, and last December Judge Clark Waddoups struck the portion of the law preventing people from living together in polygamous relationships; Judge Waddoups did, however, leave the portion of the law preventing a person from filing for more than one marriage license. Since most polygamous groups do not typically file for multiple state marriage licenses anyway, this effectively decriminalizes polygamy in the State of Utah.

A stay was placed on Judge Waddoups’ initial ruling last year, pending a decision on whether or not Utah owed the Browns any financial compensation. This week, Judge Waddoups ruled the State of Utah must pay the Browns’ attorney fees, and put the full force of his December ruling into effect.

This ruling is significant, because the logic employed by Judge Waddoups decriminalizing polygamy is the very same logic being used to advance same-sex marriage around the country. Gay activists have long dismissed claims that same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy as “fear mongering.” However, Judge Waddoups’ ruling owes a lot to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Lawrence v. Texas ruling which has been used over and over again in court to argue against everything from the federal Defense of Marriage Act to state marriage amendments.

Judge Waddoups’ ruling largely hinges on the following: (more…)