Lawmakers for several years have struggled with what has been termed a fight between children and veterans. Several education programs and veterans programs are funded by lottery proceeds, and legislators have struggled to find a balance between the two. The House has given tentative approval to a bill that, its sponsor says, achieves that balance.
Representative David Day (R-Dixon) tells his colleagues, “The bottom line with this bill is … it will end the ongoing fight between early childhood and veterans for their funding, which both sides really, really want.”
Day’s bill dedicates casino entrance fees to veterans programs. “That, added to what they’re already receiving from that fund which is about $6.6 million, will put them at about $37 million in funding … it takes care of all their programs: the homes, the cemeteries and all of that, which is enough to do what they need to do and give them just a little bit in reserve.”
The bill will increase funding to early childhood by about $4.5 million to about $35 million based on 2011 figures. Day pays for that by pulling more money from the pool that goes to pay out lottery winnings. It will be reduced to about 59 percent, from 63. Day says voters approved a minimum of 45 percent to payouts.
The bill sets a minimum of 27 percent of lottery funds that must go to general education. It also increases funding to the National Guard Trust Fund to $5.5 million, which supports scholarships, burial duties and other work done by the Guard. Finally, the Access Missouri financial assistance program will get $5 million.
See the text of Day’s legislation, House Bill 1731
Even with the cut to the money available for payouts, Day says Missouri will still be one of the leading states in that category.
The bill has received bipartisan support. Representative Sara Lampe (D-Springfield), who has been outspoken on education issues, told Day, “I thank you for bringing this forward … and making sure that children don’t lose and veterans don’t lose.”
One more favorable vote will send the bill to the Senate.