NEWS

Proposition A a gamble

Jeff Schmucker

As the clock ticks closer to the primary election, voters will have to consider Proposition A, which would eliminate a limit on how much gamblers can lose in a two hour period, tax casinos an additional 1 percent and would limit the number of casinos in the state to 13.

Proponents for the initiative have stated it would raise between $100 million and $144 million for schools, but not all of them.

According to the Yes ON A Coalition Web site, supporters believe that along with schools receiving more funding, approving the measure would allow Missouri as a state to be more competitive with casinos in Kansas and other surrounding areas by eliminating a limit on how much gamblers can lose. Missouri is one of the few states with a $500 "loss limit" –– preventing gamblers from buying more than $500 worth of chips or tokens every two hours.

However, not all schools would receive funding under the new proposal. Based on the state's funding formula, only 115 out of 524 districts, or 27 percent, would receive a funding increase.

According to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Web site, Maryville is estimated to receive an increase of $73,249. West Nodaway would receive a $26,544 increase and Nodaway Holt would get $16,282. North, Northeast and South Nodaway districts, along with Jefferson, would not receive an increase.

Maryville Superintendent Vickie Miller said she doesn't believe the proposal is necessarily an "education" proposal as others have advertised it to be. Rather, she said it's a gambling proposal –– one aimed at reducing limitations for gamblers and to make Missouri more competitive, so people don't go across state borders to wager.

"We're not going to take a position on this one way or the other," Miller said. "And I don't have all the information about the proposal, but from what I do know, there is no guarantee how much money will be added to education."

While Yes ON A Coalition members have been advertising and pushing the education benefits with television commercials and a Web site featuring teachers and students on its page, State

Rep. Mike Thomson, R-Maryville, said he believes voters will instead have to consider whether government should take the safety net out from under gamblers and allow them to risk losing more of their money.

"Basically, I think people are going to look at this as a values type of question and ask should we try and protect people from themselves," Thomson said. "Or you could look at this another way and see allowing the gambling industry to be more competitive and put more money toward education."

Maryville Daily Forum