Gambling helps pay for educating youth

Gambling helps pay for educating youth

Gambling helps pay for educating youth

Gambling appropriations by the state are considered the same as other appropriations taken in by institutions around the Missouri.

“We don’t distinguish it once it comes down,” said Rob Yust, treasurer.

Yust said Missouri Southern does not know the exact figures it receives from gambling and lottery revenues each year.

Otto Fajen, legislative director with the Missouri National Education Association, said gambling revenues almost exclusively go to education.

“It’s about $230 million to come into the state from gambling,” he said.

Fajen said the revenues come from admission fees and house percentages from riverboat casinos across the state.

He said the idea originated in the early 1990s to spend gambling revenues on education to make gambling more appealing and to save the status of Missouri educational institutes.

“It was a change to raise and add revenue to education,” he said. “It would make sense to view it as an income tax.”

The money is taken into an appropriations formula and distributed based on student population and urban size.

Sen. Gary Nodler serves on the Senate appropriations committee.

He said the general gambling fund goes mainly to education.

The fund, however, has become too little in comparison to earlier years.

“The cost of education has accelerated faster than the gambling fund,” Nodler said.

Nodler said the formula must be rewritten to allow for changes in overall state financial situations.

“A lot of Missourians think the money doesn’t go to education, but in fact it does,” he said. “But, it’s just not enough.”

Fajen agreed.

“We tend to see this issue more about state revenue,” he said. “It’s more of a problem with budget.”

Fajen said the formula is in need of a makeover, but other means can be found for funding such as more taxes.

“It’s not a punishment,” he said. “It’s an inevitable and good. We should feel privileged to pay taxes.”

Fajen said taxes and funding formulas insure quality education and services in the state.

Nodler said he agrees with people who think gambling is immoral and funding education through gambling is immoral, but the money goes to a good cause.

Fajen said he looked at it in terms of a different form of tax. He said the formula makes the money diluted in origin.

“In the big scheme of things, it’s not much different,” he said.

State funding for education through gambling will be considered during each new legislative year.

Fajen and Nodler said education is one of the first items on the budget to be looked at before other appropriations are made.