MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Has the time finally come for an Alabama lottery? At least one candidate for governor says yes. In a new video posted online Wednesday, Democrat Sue Bell Cobb outlined her plan.
In the one minute video she announced her very first action, if elected governor, is to present to the legislature a plan she calls Alabama's Lifelong Learner Lottery.
"It will provide us the opportunity to prepare our workforce to compete for 21st century jobs," said Cobb.
She says lottery revenue would be dedicated to the following three items:
- Open the doors and fully meet the need for Alabama's first-class Kindergarten and K-4 programs.
- Invest in state-of-the-art career tech education for high school students.
- Fill the gap left by Pell grants, so that those who qualify, regardless of age, can attend two or four year school tuition-free.
"We have to make sure people understand where the money is going and we need a lottery commission that will be transparent and beyond reproach," said Cobb.
With many Alabamians already crossing state lines to buy lottery tickets, many believe an Alabama lottery has a decent chance of passing, should it be left to the voters.
"If we can keep the money here in Alabama and use it for a purpose that would transform people's lives, people are going to vote for it. Even those with deep abiding faith convictions," said Cobb.
Cobb isn't the only democratic candidate for governor supporting a lottery. Anthony White also has a plan.
"I definitely agree 100 percent. I am also pushing for a lottery as well. It would help a lot of kids go to school and have an opportunity for a quality education," said White.
Walt Maddox, another democratic candidate for governor, says he will release his lottery plan in the coming weeks.
"I think that moving forward with a lottery for Alabama certainly makes sense. I think it is certainly contrast to what is being offered on the other side. To tackle Alabama's problems it will take revenue," Maddox said.
We did reach out to the fourth democratic candidate for governor, James Fields, but have not received a response.
Republican candidates are also weighing in on Cobb's lottery plan.
"I'm glad other candidates are discussing the lottery. It's an issue I've talked about for months. The lottery debate needs to go to a vote of the people. I look at the lottery as a financial tool. We don't need to make a knee-jerk reaction about where that money will go. We need to look at what's worked and what hasn't worked in other states. If a majority of Alabamians want a lottery, then we need to get it right the first time," said Republican candidate Tommy Battle.
"The Lottery is just another illustration of Democrats trying to keep us in the past. Twenty years ago, it was a different issue. Today, there are states, like Illinois, that can't even afford to pay their winners. We are growing jobs here, and under President Trump's economy, we will grow more. Instead of chasing after a chance. Alabama needs a vision for the future," said Scott Dawson, Republican candidate for governor.
Many Democrats have championed state lotteries over the years. The only one with any measure of success was Governor Don Siegelman. In 1999, he convinced to the legislature to pass a lottery, but voters later defeated it at the polls thanks largely to conservative voters who were morally opposed to gambling.
Alabama is one of only six states that does not have a lottery.