As Governor, I will propose the Alabama Education Lottery (AEL) which if passed by the Legislature would be a constitutional amendment to be voted on in November 2020 by the people of Alabama.
AEL will be a public corporation and will be grounded in transparency, accountability and the unbreakable principle that lottery proceeds will never supplant current and future funding from the Education Trust Fund. AEL's proceeds will be constitutionally protected ensuring that legislators never divert funding from our classrooms.
Based on conservative estimates, AEL will provide $300 million annually, after prizes and expenses, which will elevate and transform Alabama's schools and communities with the following initiatives:
Pre-K is proven to significantly improve school performance throughout a child’s entire academic career, including lowering grade repetition, higher scores on achievement and comprehension tests, less likely to be placed in special education, more likely to graduate high school, and more likely to go to college. And, research shows that for every dollar spent on quality Pre-K, the state saves $2.00 to $4.00 in educational costs later on.
In 2005, we established the Tuscaloosa Pre-K Initiative with the goal of providing academically at-risk four-year olds an opportunity for a true head start in the Tuscaloosa City Schools. With the City of Tuscaloosa funding the expansion and enhancement of pre-k, we have seen the results which have been life-changing for thousands of students. Working with our community, and by engaging our stakeholders, the Tuscaloosa Pre-K Initiative has partnered with the University of Alabama and United Way to address not only academic needs but also the social and medical needs facing our children.
Alabama has been nationally recognized for its First-Class Pre-K Program, but there is one problem: only 30 percent of Alabama’s four-year-olds have access.
As governor, I will propose that $90 million of the AEL proceeds fund the remaining 70 percent of the costs to fully fund The First-Class Pre-K. The first round of investments will expand to academically at-risk four-year-olds with the goal of universal pre-k by 2024.
As a state, our children are not only competing with Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida, they are competing with Germany, China and the rest of the world. By providing universal pre-k, we give our children the ability to compete and succeed in a global economic environment.