Editor's Note: In the original version of this article, Noah Michelsohn's name and title were spelled incorrectly. That has since been corrected. The Daily Lobo apologizes for any confusion.
The Lottery Scholarship could be facing more defunding this week.
The Lottery Foundation is lobbying to decrease funding Tuesday, according to a press release from the Associated Students of the University of New Mexico Director of Communications Noah Michelsohn.
In 2017 the Lottery Scholarship, which benefits around 26,000 students a year statewide, decreased from covering 90 percent of tuition to 60 percent.
Currently, 30 percent of the net revenue from the New Mexico lottery is allotted to the Lottery Scholarship, which includes ticket sales.
An increase in lottery ticket purchases could bolster the scholarship, but a decrease in these purchases would cause the scholarship to suffer, Michelsohn said.
Instead, if the bill is passed, the foundation would allot a flat rate of $38 million to the scholarship fund per year regardless of how successful the lottery is, said Royce Deller, director of the ASUNM Governmental Affairs agency.
If the Lottery Foundation cannot make the $38 million mark toward the scholarship, due to a major decrease in ticket sales, the foundation would only be required to allocate 30 percent of lottery revenue, Michelsohn said.
Over the past five years, the total amount allotted to the scholarship has averaged $42 million per year, Deller said. There could be a potential $4 million decrease if the bill is successful and the trend continues.
The lowest amount of funding granted to the scholarship fund in 10 years was in 2017 when $37.8 million were allocated to the Lottery Scholarship.
With the $38 million cap proposal, the scholarship would have seen a loss of $9 million in 2016, Deller said.
“There’s no reason for a big cut,” Michelsohn said.
Aside from last year, the Lottery Foundation’s revenue has been steady and growing, he said.
If passed, the scholarship would dip from covering 60 percent of tuition to around 48 to 50 percent, he said.
The introduction of a financial cap would support the trend of decreasing funds for the Lottery Scholarship, which affects student enrollment rates, Michelsohn said.
“The lower the enrollment UNM has, the more we have to raise tuition. The more tuition raises, the less and less the Lottery Scholarship covers…until only a slight few are able to go to college,” he said.
The bill was not pre-filed, meaning it has not been available for the public to view, but Michelsohn said a lobbyist supporting the cap contacted ASUNM looking for student support, which ASUNM did not give.
ASUNM President Noah Brooks and Vice President Sally Midani are going to Santa Fe Tuesday to advocate against the bill to protect Lottery Scholarship recipients from even more financial turmoil, Michelsohn said.
“This is the fifth year (the Lottery Foundation is) trying to do this,” he said. “This year there seems to be a little more support on their side.”
Madison Spratto is a news editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Madi_Spratto.