Alabama is so broke it may start a state lottery

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

The governor of cash-strapped Alabama wants to implement a state lottery to keep the lights on.

NEW YORK — The governor of cash-strapped Alabama wants to implement a state lottery to keep the lights on.

“The state of Alabama has not and cannot at this time pay for the most basic services that we must provide to our people,” said Governor Robert Bentley in a video message. “The time has come for us to find a permanent solution.”

“This solution will provide funding that we can count on year after year without ever having to raise your taxes or put one more Band-Aid on our state’s money problems,” he said.

Bentley is calling for a special session by state lawmakers to allow a vote by the general public. The vote would be for a constitutional amendment allowing a lottery that would help plug the hole in the state’s dismal finances. He said this could bring in $225 million in annual state revenue.

Bentley said prior efforts like “right-sizing” the government, cutting “wasteful” spending, borrowing money and shifting the management of Medicaid to the private sector haven’t been enough to fix the problem.

He also said his proposal of a “very fair and balanced tax plan” was rejected by state lawmakers.

The governor mentioned that many Alabama residents already play the lottery, but they cross state lines to gamble elsewhere.

“As you know, most of our neighboring states have lotteries, and Alabamians are some of their best customers,” he said. “It’s time we stop supporting other states’ budgets, and keep our money at home to solve our own problems.”

The neighboring state of Mississippi doesn’t have a lottery, either. But the other border states of Florida, Georgia and Tennessee all have lotteries.

Not only does Alabama lack a state lottery, but it does not participate in Powerball or Mega Millions, the multi-state games.

According to the Executive Budget Office of Alabama, state tax revenues have flatlined in recent years and can’t keep up with expenses. The office has projected more budget shortfalls, despite cost-cutting.

By Aaron Smith