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Lawmakers React to Governor's Education Funding Plan

January 24, 2002
By: Missy Shelton
State Capital Bureau

Loosening gambling laws to fund education is getting mixed reviews from state lawmakers of both political parties.

Missy Shelton has this report.

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In his state of the state address, Missouri's governor Bob Holden laid out his plan to fund public education...it includes eliminating the loss limit of 500 dollars on casino gambling and expanding the state lottery to include video gaming devices.

That's the governor's plan to find the more than 200 million dollars to fully fund the education formula, which is the mechanism used to distribute state dollars to school districts.

Finding support for the governor's plan among lawmakers of his own party was difficult.

One of the democrats who defends the governor's proposal is Mid-Missouri representative Ted Farnen.

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Opposition to the governor's plan came quickly from Republican lawmakers like the chair of the Senate Appropriations committee John Russell.

He says the formula doesn't have to be fully funded.

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But not all of his Republican collegueas in the senate agree...The chair of the Senate Education committee Roseann Bentley says she wants to see the formula fully funded.

But she says it would be hard to vote in favor of the governor's proposal even if it were the only way to fund education.

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Bentley says for her, it's a moral issue.

She says gambling addiction is a real problem that concerns her.

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But it's not clear at all if the democratic governor even has enough votes to get his proposal past the democrat-controlled House.

A number of democrats like Springfield representative Craig Hosmer have reservations about the plan even though he acknowledges the tough financial situation facing the state.

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At least the governor has the support of the House Speaker, Jim Kreider.

Kreider says he would vote in favor of the governor's plan.

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The notion of eliminating the loss limit of 500 dollars for casino gambling is especially appealing to Kreider.

He says it's a logical step, given the fact that a neighboring state has no loss limits.

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Kreider says he plans to begin moving the governor's proposal through the House.

It will begin in committee and must gain approval there if it's to be debated on the floor. That could prove a tough hurdle for a measure that doesn't have the full support of the majority party.

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