Cohen expects legislative battle before lottery scholarship vote - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Ben Watson

Cohen expects legislative battle before lottery scholarship vote

A former Tennessee legislator and current U.S. Representative said people should expect fireworks when legislators return to Nashville in January to make critical lottery scholarship vote. 

At that time, legislators will vote on whether or not to use a $400 Tennessee lottery surplus to help students with lower grade point averages than what is currently required.

Representative Steve Cohen, who pushed for the state lottery during his years as a state legislator and is now considered its chief architect, thinks a legislative battle is almost certain.

According to Cohen, the fight over lowering the student grade point will split along party lines when lawmakers go back to Nashville.

"There will be a partisan fight," he said in an interview Wednesday.

Cohen said Republicans will vote to keep existing scholarship guidelines and use the surplus for things like school construction projects.  Cohen said he supports Democrats who want to use the $400 million to help C+ high school students get lottery scholarships.

"It's gonna be a fight," he said. "I agree the scholarship should be reduced by a quarter point, 2.7, the first year."

Cohen said he plans to lobby in support of lowering grade point standards, promoting a plan called the "Aspire" grant, which would enable low income students to get more money to pay for college.

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