Lottery scholarship program may be in danger

From - by Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4 - It was a must-do job for the state legislature – and it didn’t get done. Now thousands of New Mexico college students on lottery scholarships are wondering if they’ll be able to stay in school.
     Analysts say the scholarship fund will be $5 million in the red by July, with more and more students becoming eligible and tuition costs going higher and higher. At the same time, lottery ticket sales are on a downward slide. Less money coming in – more money going out. You don’t have to be a math major to figure out it’s going belly-up.
     The lottery scholarships are good for full tuition at New Mexico’s public universities and community colleges and other public higher education institutions. Students must graduate from a New Mexico high school or get a GED here, and maintain a grade point average of 2.5. In the 60 day legislative session that ended Saturday, lawmakers considered a proposal to raise that grade point average to 2.75, which would reduce the number of eligible students. That bill died in committee. Other proposals included limits on family income for scholarship recipients, and diverting money from the state’s tobacco settlement income. Nothing passed.
     For now, the state Higher Education Department seems to be willing to let the scholarships stagger on, awash in red ink – hoping that next year lawmakers can forge some kind of agreement. Read more

Iraq veteran family awarded $10 million in damages

Kenneth Ellis

Jurors have awarded more than $10 million in damages in the civil case of an Iraq War veteran who was fatally shot by an Albuquerque police officer three years ago. 
Jurors announced the verdict Friday after several hours of deliberation. 
The case stems from Officer Brett Lampiris-Tremba's 2010 shooting of Kenneth Ellis during a standoff in front of a convenience store. 
Ellis suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. According to police, Lampiris-Tremba shot Ellis once in the neck after the veteran pointed a gun to his own head.


Airline to offer flights from Santa Fe to Phoenix

Great Lakes Aviation says it plans to begin offering flights between Santa Fe and Phoenix starting in May.

 The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the airline already flies from Santa Fe to Denver and Clovis. However, the flights to southeastern New Mexico will end with the addition of the Phoenix connection. 

The airline's announcement comes as the Santa Fe Municipal Airport waits to find out whether its control tower might lose its federal employees due to automatic budget cuts. Airport director Jim Montman says that decision won't be made until March 22.

 Advertised online fares for the Great Lakes flights between Santa Fe and Phoenix start at $89 for a nonrefundable one-way ticket on a twin-engine turboprop airplane.

Breaking Bad bill gets second chance

New Mexico's "Breaking Bad" bill will get a second chance at being signed by Gov. Susana Martinez. 

The original bill was vetoed by Martinez, but the original parts of the bill were absorbed into a larger tax package over the weekend. Martinez said she's happy with the proposal. 

Even after a long day of filming one of the last episodes of "Breaking Bad," actor Bryan Cranston kept an eye on the Legislature and the future of the bill. 

The bill increases the amount of return incentives to 30% from the previous 25%.  

Co-star and Albuquerque native Steven Michael Quezada said the bill will help him produce his own independent series, "Duke City." 

Cranston said the issue goes beyond the financial incentives. Additional incentives mean more jobs for New Mexicans working behind the camera.