Letter to the editor: Diversion of lottery funding harming the future of the Commonwealth

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As members of the Board of Student Body Presidents of Kentucky, our top priority is to advocate for Kentucky’s students who are pursuing a postsecondary education. Right now, the diversion of lottery funding from need-based financial aid for higher education is harming the future of our Commonwealth. This must change.

According to KRS 154A.130, Kentucky’s lottery monies are supposed to be split in three ways: funding for state literacy programs, the Kentucky Education Excellence Scholarship (KEES), a merit-based grant, and College Access Program Grants (CAP) and Kentucky Tuition Grants (KTG), which are both need-based. The purpose of the Powerball Promise, as this allocation of funds is known, is to use Kentucky lottery revenue to directly aid our Commonwealth’s students by making a postsecondary degree more financially achievable.

Over the past few years, the need-based grants have been underfunded. According to the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, in 2016, underfunding has effectively limited scholarships for 15,000 to 20,000 qualifying students. In the past legislative session, there was bipartisan support in restoring the funding to grants for students with the greatest need. Governor Bevin’s veto of House Bill 10 effectively stopped this funding from being restored, illustrating his lack of commitment to Kentucky’s poorest students.

Let us be clear: the Powerball promise is not being fulfilled as it stands now. We call on our state representatives and the Governor to follow the law and invest in the students who are Kentucky’s future. If we want a strong economic future for Kentucky, we must invest in our students today. Educational outcomes are not a short-term game; we must see the long-term benefits for our Commonwealth in order to succeed in the twenty-first century.

Governor Bevin, we urge you to stand up for Kentucky’s students and demonstrate your commitment to our Commonwealth’s future by restoring the Powerball Promise instead of diverting the funding away from students who need it the most.

The Board of Student Body Presidents of Kentucky

Jay Todd Richey, Chair — Western Kentucky University

Clint Combs, Vice Chair — Murray State University

Christopher Muncy — Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities

Collin Potter — Eastern Kentucky University

Ellen Braden — Kentucky Community & Technical College System

Tony Williams — Kentucky State University

Adam Abbott — Morehead State University

Will Weber — Northern Kentucky University

Rowan Reid — University of Kentucky

Aaron Vance — University of Louisville