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NM lottery scholarship fix advances to House

SANTA FE — The Senate has approved a proposal to shore up a lottery-financed college scholarship program with state liquor tax money.

The measure passed the Senate late Tuesday on a 31-11 vote and goes to the House with lawmakers set to adjourn Thursday.

The scholarships pay the full cost of tuition for high school graduates attending a New Mexico college or university.

The program is running short of money because tuition costs have grown faster than lottery revenue.

The bill will direct 39 percent of liquor excise tax collections to the scholarship program, about $19 million next year.

College freshmen and sophomores will continue to receive scholarships for 100 percent of tuition but a smaller percentage will go to future juniors and seniors based on the availability of money for the program.

Another $11.5 million for the scholarship program was included in the state budget bill passed by the Senate earlier Tuesday and sent to the House.