Lawmakers discuss possibility of Alabama lottery

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - This past legislative session, the big issue was the general fund. Legislators not wanting to raise taxes but looking at a strapped state budget.

North Alabama lawmakers have mixed feelings about a lottery, but say it's a last resort that seems more likely now than ever.

It's undeniable that at least some Alabamians want to participate, but buying tickets in Tennessee means the Yellowhammer State could be losing money.

"I would vote to have a lottery vote put to the people, and there are many others that would too," said Representative Mac McCutcheon.

The feelings are mixed.

"While I personally don't like the lottery, I have to represent my people," said Representative Jim Patterson. "They're overwhelmingly in favor of a lottery."

Many questions would have to be answered, like where would the money go?

"Is it going to go 100% to shore up the general fund, is it going to go help education? Is it going to go set up education scholarships like other states have done? Those questions would all have to be answered in the legislative process but I think it'll be probably debated in the upcoming session," said Senator Arthur Orr.

"I think we could see a lottery bill," said McCutcheon. "I think the lottery bill needs to be a clean lottery bill for the people of Alabama to vote on."

"It would probably be passed," said Rep. Patterson. "I think the lottery can hurt the people you try to help the most."

Other lawmakers agree that it could become a tax on the poor.

"The poor spend a large part of their discretionary funds on the lottery, so the studies show," explained Orr.

State leaders selling the dream of instant fortune just to patch up the general fund isn't the road they want to take.

Lawmakers will reconvene in Montgomery early February.