BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - It’s all everyone’s talking about: The billion dollar jackpot in Friday’s Mega Millions drawing.
So, what’s holding Alabama back?
“It’s simple in theory. And if you poll it right now, ‘Do you want a lottery or not,’ you get an overwhelming 70 percent in my district want it. If you say, ‘You want a lottery, but all the money has to go to this,’ the numbers drop drastically," said State Senator Cam Ward, (R) Alabaster.
Senator Ward said when it comes to figuring out how lottery proceeds will be used, it creates division.
“A lottery doesn’t generate as much revenue as people generally might think it does,” he said.
He said after you pay out prizes and costs that go into running it, you’re dealing with about $200 million more dollars a year to your overall state budget.
“That sounds like a lot of money until you realize the education budget of Alabama is close to being 6 billion dollars, and the general fund budget that funds our entire state budget is $2 billion,” said Senator Ward.
He thinks now, the legislature has to come up with a comprehensive bill of what a lottery means, how it will operate, how to prevent corruption, and where the money will go.
In Georgia and Florida, over $1 billion dollars go toward education.
Senator Ward said while he’s in favor of allowing people to vote on a lottery, he believes it’ll be a bad idea to fund a new program with such an unstable funding source.
He said lawmakers will most likely hash out the specifics during the next legislative session in March.
Voters may have to wait until the next general election two years away, or they may get a shot at it in a special election next year.