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Cox proposes raising lottery ticket prices for schools

ATLANTA -- State schools Superintendent Kathy Cox called Friday for lottery ticket prices to be raised to help pay for K-12 education in Georgia.

Cox said during an appearance on CNN that hiking the price by just 50 cents per ticket could raise $350 million to help fill a massive hole left by state budget cuts in the past two years. Cox said raising prices would ensure K-12 got money while also preserving funding for the HOPE college scholarship and the state's prekindergarten programs.

''In down economic times, people are still buying lottery tickets,'' said Cox, a Republican running for her third term as state schools chief.

But the move likely wouldn't get much support from state lawmakers.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jack Hill said Friday that he had considered adding an excise tax on lottery ticket sales to fund education. But he said the idea ''didn't gain much traction'' among his colleagues.

''It's a tough sell,'' said Hill, R-Reidsville.

Lottery spokeswoman Tandi Reddick declined

to comment. Chris Schrimpf, a spokesman for Gov. Sonny Perdue, also declined comment because Cox has not discussed the proposal with the governor.

The state constitution already allows lottery revenue to go to technology and buildings for elementary, middle and high schools, but lawmakers stopped allotting that money to K-12 in 2003. The state's education budget has been slashed by nearly $1 billion in the past 19 months amid the worst state economic crisis in decades.