MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama House Minority Leader Democrat Craig Ford and co-sponsor Republican Steve Clouse have introduced a lottery bill in the Alabama House of Representatives and say the time has come for Alabama to consider legalized gambling as a revenue source.
House Bill 471 has been estimated to raise about $280 million dollars to help fund medicaid programs, although no timetable has been given for when Alabama might actually see any financial results.
If the bill does make it through the legislature it requires a constitutional amendment and that means a statewide vote. A lottery bill was voted down fifteen years ago. The make up of the voting public has changed in the last 15 years and many of the younger generation of voters do not have any idea of that vote.
Ford said voters deserve the chance to vote on a lottery. House Bill 471 was introduced as Gov. Bentley struggles to build support for a proposed $541 million dollar tax increase. Gov. Bentley is on the record opposed to a lottery but has also stated publicly that the people have the right to vote.
While I am not convinced that a state lottery can generate the kind of revenue being mentioned, I am excited that another solution to our cash woes is at least being offered.
Kudo's to Representatives Ford and Clouse for pushing this bill forward. If the majority of voters say they don't want gambling, fine. But, let's at least give Alabamians a chance to speak their mind by putting the lottery on the ballot.