Yesterday, the Arkansas Lottery voted to give raises to two employees—advertising director Joanna Bunten and chief legal counsel Bishop Woosley. Bunten received a 20% increase and Woosley received an 8% increase.

According to lottery spokeswoman Julie Baldridge in a story by KATV-7, these raises were “overdue under state regulations.” Whether the respective 20% and 8% raises were specifically mandated—or just some kind of raise was required—is not immediately known.

Chairman of the Arkansas Federation of College Republicans Skot Covert had this to say about the situation on his blog:

“I may just be a college student, but I can do the simple math. Granted the total amount of the pay raises combined may not be significant in the grand scheme of the Arkansas Lottery operation, but, is it possible that amount could fund at least one more scholarship?”

This is the very question that many Arkansans are asking. Why does it appear that the lottery is more focused on salary increases and less concerned about scholarships? People are aware that salaries keep going up while scholarships are being decreased. The lottery could do a huge favor for its public image by lowering the salaries of its highest paid employees, making some budget cuts, and restoring the scholarship amounts to where they were originally.

1 Comment

  1. Teacups

    I worked hard to apply and meet (and exceed) all of the requirements for the first round of scholarships last year. I spent an entire year working on that, contacting my state representative, writing letters, etc. I discovered that, in spite of my EXCEEDING ALL of the WRITTEN criteria, I was denied a scholarship. They were actually stupid enough to admit that scholarships were going to younger students. I am an older, non-traditional student who committed the cardinal error years ago of going to work out of high school to help support my ill, single parent mother, instead of college. I became a divorced, single parent myself several years later. I have sent myself to college a class at a time all these years. I wasn’t able to take my first class until just prior to my 30th birthday. I am at a 3.3 GPA today, and working towards a Ph.D. And it was all on my own nickel, until I got my first student loan a year ago at age 51. Prove to me the Lottery Scholarship Commission is not practicing age discrimination. I have a documented and excellent history of my educational progress and consistent goals over the years. I stand a higher chance of sticking with the program than many 17 year-olds who will change their major and life plans at least five times in the next several years. I KNOW what I want to do with my college education and I have proven it. I wrote letter after letter to every last member of that Commission, and to the state representatives serving on that Commission, and only received two responses – one from a female member encouraging me, and one from the director of the AR Department of Higher Education basically defending himself. It seems to me that the only thing that the Department of Higher Education does not actively support for non-traditonal, older students is higher education in this instance. The lottery scholarship program has turned out to be a great disappointment and grave shame to this state. Obscenely high salaries are coupled with questionable performance and seemingly-shady activities and each year their “progress” is tainted with more questions than answers. Director Ernie Passailaigue’s one-third of a million dollar salary could be effectively reduced by fifty percent (and apply that difference to at least one scholarship), and he could still earn a respectable salary in this state. He and his ilk have not contributed honor to this organization, but only increasing questions and doubt. Once again, Arkansas is running neck and neck at the bottom of the barrel. I challenge the Commission to provide a follow-up report in 3-4 years of the graduation percentages, as well as the GPA scores, of every last student they did award a scholarship to. All one has to do is look at the graduation and retention rates of UALR to see that there is an alarming number of students who begin college and do not stick ultimately graduate, or transfer out of state. As a committed, mature, focused and intelligent older, non-traditional student I have ALREADY documented that I am not going to do that. Yet the Commission has made it plain to myself and others like me that our contribution as college-educated professionals is not valuable nor is it worth them investing their lottery dollars in.

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