Purchase lottery tickets w/ credit card? At least tie lottery expansion to scholarship reform

Sen. John Arthur-Smith has been a relatively fiscally-conservative Democrat in the New Mexico Senate. Unfortunately, he has cooked up a piece of legislation, SB 355, that makes little sense. Smith’s bill would allow lottery tickets to be purchased with credit cards.

The New Mexico Lottery has recently been dealing with some unwanted national attention for seemingly ripping off a winner, but the lottery which funds the lottery scholarship program is looking for more suckers…er customers and allowing people to buy lottery tickets on credit is one way to increase the system’s revenues.

It is worth nothing that primarily low-income people play the lottery in the first place and that it is middle and upper class New Mexicans that benefit from the scholarship program.

But, it is most important that if we are going to accept this kind of uber-regressive “taxation,” that the program it finances, the lottery scholarship program, should actually use the money in a sensible manner. RGF laid out a few basic reforms that were mostly ignored by the Legislature in 2014. With Obama pushing community college and so few New Mexicans prepared by the K-12 system for college, it would seem that focusing scarce lottery scholarship resources on vocational and technical training at the state level would be the most sensible option for extending the system’s funds.

Unfortunately, Smith’s bill just pours more money into a poorly-managed system. There are real social costs to the lottery. Any effort to expand that pool of resources should at the very least come with reform “strings” attached.