Lottery over; now it’s

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 14, 1999

time to work together

Published Oct. 14, 1999

Following the defeat of Gov. Don Siegelman’s Amendment 1, a proposal for a lottery for pre-school funds and scholarships for college students, the importance of a backup plan comes into question.

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Siegelman said in a recent statement that there was no backup plan to improve education should the Alabama lottery fail to muster the needed support to pass. In an optimistic concession speech Tuesday night, the governor vowed to continue work to find ways to help bring Alabama’s educational programs up to par with the rest of the country.

We hope he is willing to continue to move forward. The lottery vote sent a strong message to Siegelman that though voters were willing to support him in his attempt to improve education, they weren’t willing to support a state lottery for student scholarships.

Well-funded Christian organizations bombarded the air waves, newspaper pages and billboards with a strong campaign against the lottery in the days before the election. Whether the defeat the lottery suffered was a result of a concerted Christian effort or the fact Alabama voters didn’t mind the lottery as much as the plan for spending the money is in the eye of the beholder. One thing, though, is clear. The state wasn’t ready to buy into Siegelman’s proposal.

The facts of the lottery were clearer in the days before the lottery vote than they were when Siegelman rode his proposal into the Governor’s Mansion in Montgomery. We think that an educated public made an educated decision about the lottery, and in what was considered to be a high turnout day for voters, Siegelman should heed the message, and vowed Tuesday night that he would.

Now it is time for his Plan B. This infamous plan, according to the governor, never existed. If that is the case, it would be wise for him to call a truce with the Christian groups and lottery opponents and think long-term about what can be done to improve education.

It’s also time for lottery opponents to move on and to put Tuesday’s victory behind them as they seek to work with the governor to help him devise a strategy that all of Alabama can agree on.

Call it Plan B, or an alternate plan, or anything else. No matter what it is called, we should all work together to build a plan that will set a precedent to make Alabama the leader in education that Siegelman envisions.

In more ways than one, Alabama’s proposed lottery was a gamble. This one didn’t pay off for Siegelman. We are optimistic that by working together with a common goal, the next one will put the state in the forefront of education in the Southeast.