At a Legislative hearing Nov. 19 the Coordinating Commission made the case for continuing to use a share of State lottery revenue to help fund a need-based financial aid program for Nebraska college students.
The Legislature's Education Committee heard more than three hours of testimony on how to distribute about $17 million in State lottery funds earmarked for education. Coordinating Commission Executive Director Mike Baumgartner offered testimony, which included a handout that clearly illustrates how vital lottery funding is to the Nebraska Opportunity (NOG).
Under the current lottery distribution formula - set to expire in 2016 - about $10 million of those funds go to NOG, which is administered by the Coordinating Commission. The remaining $7 million goes toward various pre-K and K-12 initiatives. In 2013-14, more than $16 million in NOG funds went to needy students, many of whom would not be able to afford college without such financial aid. NOG is funded through a combination of State General fund appropriations and State lottery funds. If lottery funding were removed - which is what would happen under current legislation - nearly 10,000 fewer NOG scholarships would have been awarded in 2013-14.
The Education Committee is expected to consider legislation this session that would decide how the education portion of lottery funding is distributed after July 1, 2016.