Thursday, January 01, 2009

Lawmakers Consider Shuffling Casino Money

The voter-approved law to put money from casinos into the state's school funding formula is irking some lawmakers because some districts won't benefit.
Now, two months after voters approved the casino ballot initiative, lawmakers are suggesting that the money be diverted to raise teacher salaries, boost special education and gifted programs and even help cash-strapped universities.
Nixa State Representative Jay Wasson (who gets extra brownie points for being a politico available on the New Year's Day holiday): "If there were some flexibility there, this is going to be a very tough budget crunch year." BUT . . . "If it's written that way as I suspect it is, that's where it'll have to go. I don't think we'll have any choice on that."
"Lawmakers can ignore the spending directives approved by voters and appropriate money as they choose, or they can change the law itself with a majority vote in the House and Senate and the governor's signature." "The language addressing the formula was, for lack of a better description, not ideally written," said incoming Senate President Pro Tem Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, who was a supporter of the ballot measure. "There probably are going to have to be some changes."
The new legislative session begins next Wednesday.

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