This month the Missouri House passed legislation meant to provide a stable funding source for the state’s seven veteran’s homes, which are currently in desperate need of additional funds.
As we entered the 2012 session, we were presented with the daunting task of handling a 500 million dollar shortfall in the budget. As we tackle the budget without raising taxes, we must also address the immense need for increased funding to our veterans homes. We believe with the following proposal we have been able to achieve just that.
The bill we approved would dedicate more of the state’s lottery prize money to education, which would in turn free up funding generated by casino entrance fees to be used for the state’s veteran’s homes. We believe this change could generate an extra $30 million to help keep the existing seven homes open and potentially build an eighth home in the future.
HB 1731 would change the disbursement of lottery prize money so that 31.5 percent goes to education. Under current law, education receives 27 percent of lottery money. The change would provide approximately $35 million in funding to early childhood education – an increase of slightly more than $4 million.
By drawing funding for early childhood education from lottery prize money, the current funding source derived from the existing casino entrance fee would be freed up to help maintain the state’s veteran’s homes. The change would reduce the amount of prize money going back to lottery winners from 63 cents of every dollar to 59.5 cents.
My colleagues and I are very excited about this solution because it allows us to provide a stable funding source for our veteran’s homes and even allows us to increase funding to early childhood education and the Missouri National Guard Trust Fund.
The best part is this proposal does it without any kind of increase in entrance fees or taxes. With this funding we can not only keep the existing homes open, we also can realistically look at building another home to provide bed space
for the more than 1,600 veterans currently on the waiting list.