N.J. may shave a bit from lottery winnings to fund kids’ programs in poor areas

New Jersey Sen. Ron Rice is sponsoring a bill that would restore voting rights to those on parole, probation or  in prison. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

New Jersey Sen. Ron Rice is sponsoring a bill that would restore voting rights to those on parole, probation or in prison. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation that would impose a tax on some lottery winnings to fund programs that help kids.

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Ron Rice, calls for a tax of 0.5 percent on lottery winnings greater than $600. The money would pay for after-school programs run by nonprofit groups in school districts with high poverty rates.

Rice does not believe most people would object.

“Because I know if I keep that kid out of jail, out of the arms of the criminal justice system, I’m saving a lot of money long term that’s going to help keep my property taxes down,” said Rice, D-Essex.

The bill was advanced by a Senate committee on a party-line vote.

Sen. Sam Thompson was one of the Republicans voting against it.

“The last think we need right now is an increase in taxes. Why are you going to put another tax in?” said Thompson, R-Middlesex. “That’s what it came down to.”

New Jersey already taxes lottery winnings on a sliding scale that peaks at 10.8 percent. The federal government taxes lottery winnings as regular income.

The measure has not yet been considered by the state Assembly.

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