July 7 First News: Lottery Chief Seeks Changes to College Scholarship Program (Listen)

Jul 7, 2014

The head of New Mexico's lottery system wants the state Legislature to cut the 30 percent minimum it is required to provide in revenues to the college scholarship program, noting such a move could increase lottery sales and create a larger revenue stream for the program. However, the Albuquerque Journal reports that a Santa-Fe based think tank, whose 2006 study led state lawmakers to set the minimum, says the move would only put more money in the pockets of lottery administrators. The Legislative Lottery Scholarship program provides tuition money for students at state-funded institutions. The New Mexico lottery system says it has raised more than 610 million dollars for education. Think New Mexico says the lottery could increase sales by reducing overheard, but lottery officials say they have nowhere to cut.

Santa Fe Police have arrested a man suspected in a string of armed robberies, including the mugging of a teen volunteer outside the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in downtown Santa Fe. Police spokeswoman Celina Westervelt says 42-year-old Andrew Valencia was arrested Saturday after an officer recognized him from surveillance photos. She says Valencia admitted to four recent robberies. Officers found a BB gun in Valencia's backpack. They say it had been altered to look like a real handgun. Valencia told officers he robbed the 17-year-old museum volunteer and stole another woman's purse last Wednesday. He also admitted to two other robberies the week before. Police say Valencia has a long criminal history. Online records show he has been arrested 33 times on DWI, battery, burglary and shoplifting charges dating back to 2001.

New Mexico leads the nation when it comes to deaths related to excessive alcohol use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in a recent study that New Mexico experienced more deaths per capita that were attributable to alcohol. The rate of 51 deaths per 100-thousand people was more than any other state. Nationally, the study found excessive drinking led to about 88-thousand deaths per year from 2006 to 2010 and shortened the lives of those who died by about 30 years.

For millions of veterans in rural America, the challenges of accessing an overburdened and scandal-plagued health care system go beyond having to wait months to land an appointment. Transportation adds another dimension to the problems they face. Hundreds of miles often lie between doctor's offices and veterans in small towns. For anything worse than a common cold, local clinics are often helpless, and it can take hours behind the wheel for vets to get adequate care. Lawmakers in some states have been talking about how to fill the gaps, and the Veterans Affairs Department has been working to expand transportation options throughout its system, but New Mexico — one of the largest and most rural states — has yet to make the list.

The Diego Fire that's been burning in the Jemez Mountains about eight miles south of Coyote is now 95-percent contained. Crews today are expected to continue mop-up work on the lightning-caused blaze that's consumed more than 36-hundred acres.

Santa Fe Weather: Mostly sunny today with a 20-percent chance for isolated showers and thunderstorms and a high of 85. Tonight: Partly cloudy with a 20-percent chance for isolated showers and thunderstorms the low down to 61. Tomorrow: Partly sunny with a high near 83 and the chance for showers and thunderstorms rises to 50-percent.