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Powerball-mania and education

Councilman Mark Treyger to New York Lottery: BRING BACK COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM!

BROOKLYN – City Council Member Mark Treyger (47th District) is calling on the New York Lottery to reinstate the Leaders of Tomorrow college scholarship program. The program, which the agency cut in 2009, awarded one student from every high school, public and private, in the state a $5,000 scholarship. The following is a statement from Council Member Treyger:

Lottery fever has gripped all of us. Everyone is talking about the ever-climbing Powerball jackpot. At over one billion dollars, this mind-boggling sum of money will change the life of anyone fortunate enough to have picked the winning six-digit combination.

But the real winner of Powerball-mania is the state lottery agency. The higher the jackpot climbs, the more money New Yorkers spend on tickets, and the more money the New York Lottery takes in. The agency makes sure the hype continues to grow, spending big bucks on promoting the jackpot prize by advertising through a wide variety of media.

Every year, this agency takes in billions of dollars. In 2009, the New York Lottery took in approximately $7.5 billion. That was the same year the agency ended its Leaders of Tomorrow scholarship program. For nine years, the agency had given out a $5,000 scholarship to one student from every high school, public and private, in the state. The Leaders of Tomorrow program helped more than 2,000 students pay for college. The agency cut the program to save $1.4 million.

It is time for the agency to reinstate the Leaders of Tomorrow scholarship program. Tuition costs across the state and the country continue to rise. The justification by state officials for the existence of the lottery has always been the funding it can provide for education, yet this program was canceled after just nine years so that the agency could save what at that time amounted to less than .02% of its revenue.

While the lottery has the power to change the lives of a handful of individuals, it is not a profitable venture for the vast majority of people who help the agency make its revenue. The New York Lottery took in over $9 billion in revenue each of the last two years. If funding education is no longer the priority for the agency, then perhaps it is time to reexamine its very existence.



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