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Southeast Missouri superintendents weigh in on Proposition A

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

(Photo)
Southeast Missourian file Proposition A would raise the state's gambling tax and impact the state's casino industry in other ways.
Proposition A is named the "Schools First Elementary and Secondary Education Funding Initiative," but five local superintendents are deeming it a misnomer.

"I think it's all about gaming. I think they're trying to pass it on the back by saying it's good for kids," said Jackson School District superintendent Dr. Ron Anderson.

If passed Nov. 4, Proposition A would raise the gambling tax from 20 percent to 21 percent, remove the state's loss limit and put a cap on the number of casino licenses available. The Missouri auditor's office estimates schools would receive an additional $105 to $130 million yearly from the changes.

All the superintendents interviewed said they would welcome the extra money but remained skeptical about the proposition's true intent and current revenue projections.

Distribution is connected to the state's education funding mechanism, known as the foundation formula. Because the 2005-approved formula won't be fully phased in until 2013, only a portion of Proposition A revenue could be distributed to schools initially. In fiscal year 2010, an estimated $54.9 million would be distributed, according to figures from the state education department.

The rest of the money would go into a "tamper-resistant" fund that "can't be spent on anything else," said Scott Charton, spokesman for the Yes on A coalition, which is backed by casinos.

About a fifth of Missouri districts, including St. Louis, wouldn't receive any funding through Proposition A next year or potentially beyond. Those districts fall under a separate provision of the foundation formula. Districts that have high local property values or districts that would have lost money under the new formula are funded through a separate mechanism. No districts in Cape Girardeau, Bollinger, Perry or Scott counties fall under this category.

In fiscal year 2008, Missouri casinos earned $1.6 billion and paid $327 million in gaming taxes to state and local governments, according to the Missouri Gaming Commission. Casinos would have to earn $2.1 billion next year to meet the Proposition A revenue estimates, said Evelio Silvera, executive director of Casino Watch and a spokesman for the No on A campaign.

"In these tough economic times, people would have to lose over $2 billion to hit estimates," he said. Silvera mainly objects to ideas that the Proposition A fund would be immune to tampering and he worries the funding would be subject to a "shell game." He said there is no guarantee general revenue funds would not be directed away from educational programs.

"The questions superintendents should be asking is not how much Proposition A will give you but how much will you lose from general revenue," he said.

Charton said the act specifically states the additional funding should not be used to replace existing funding. He said a required annual state audit would prove money was being spent as intended, and people could sue if "they feel money is not being spent appropriately."

Dr. Jim Welker, superintendent of the Cape Girardeau School District, said that "although we always welcome additional funding, I'm not sure this is the answer." Like others, he questioned the accuracy of projections.

"The economical conditions we're in can even affect the money we're receiving now," said Nate Crowden, superintendent of the Delta School District. "There is no doubt we could use the extra funds. But there would be some doubt in getting the extra funds."

Anderson said an increase would be "nominal" — less than one percent of the district's overall budget.

"I do have some reservations and skepticism. Are we putting the schools first, as it says, or are we repealing the loss limits on the gaming boats?" asked Oak Ridge superintendent Dr. Gerald Landewee.

lbavolek@semissourian.com

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I join with several friends and patronize several casinos within driving distance of Cape. Although I get lucky from time to time, I eventually 'pay' for my entertainment.

I do realize that some folks are susceptible to excess and addictive behavior; and folks have reason to be concerned in that regard. However, the great majority that game for entertainment enjoys it immensely and will seek out this brief escape on as a regular basis as they have time for or can afford.

I too share the distaste for obviously misnomered pieces of legislation. Implied dishonesty does not promote more trust for our beleaguered political process.

But I do support Proposition A and bristle at the rhetoric from both positions that misrepresent reality.

Too bad we can't discuss real issues openly and honestly, but that's the world we live in.

I will vote 'Yes' and encourage anyone that is less informed or undecided to give it the benefit of the doubt cast by those against and the fools that named the bill.

-- Posted by blogbudsman on Tue, Oct 14, 2008, at 8:34 AM

So the state says the Cape and Jackson school districts will each receive more than $300k a year from Proposition A without raising my local property taxes ... and those superintendents are not rushing to encourage a yes vote? This is a no-brainer. I will vote a big YES. I also like that it will keep a casino out of downtown Cape Girardeau. Let's gain money for our schools without a local tax increase and keep casinos out of Cape. This is an easy call.

-- Posted by JDSquane on Tue, Oct 14, 2008, at 9:30 AM

Did the schools originate this ballot measure? Of course not. It originated with the gambling industry and the current casino owners. Anytime the casinos originate a bill and support it, I'm suspicious. Can't you see what they are trying to do? They want higher income (from removing the $500 cap) and no future competition from other casinos.

Sure it stops a casino in Cape, but it further addicts many more gamblers to this curse. We should have never allowed casinos in the first place. Now the schools are addicted to the money.

When is Missouri going to quit proposing ballot measures with conflicting issues?! We had the same dilemma with the so-called anti-cloning initiative.

-- Posted by JD420 on Tue, Oct 14, 2008, at 10:15 AM

Yes indeed its a easy call!!VOTE NO..This bill is being funded and was written to protect the 13 or so Casinos in Missouri!All under the guise to fund education.I for one do not agree with this Bill.Its is very poorly written and in the Wolf's opinion,unconstitutional.Why is it their intent to limit the amount od Casinos that can do buisness in Missouri.Could it be to protect their own interest so that no further competition can exist?I think so.If you are looking for a tax break on your property taxes perhaps since the housing market was so over valued and homes are worth 10 percent less or perhaps even more,the County should consider this and lower are taxes!Yeah! thats really going to happen!!!The gaming

industry is a money maker any way you look at it.It can also benefit the Cities they are located in.Let buisness exist anywhere as long as they are legal.This is the right of all Amercans.Not to mention the Citizens of Cape Girardeau voted to allow a Casino

and if this passes that will never happen.

-- Posted by GREYWOLF on Tue, Oct 14, 2008, at 10:26 AM

Buddy, You are 100% correct.

Vote YES, it is a win win for Cape Schools & Downtown!

-- Posted by JOHNG on Tue, Oct 14, 2008, at 11:40 AM

I'm glad the superintendents brought up the fact each time casinos' offer more money for schools through their bills the legislature removes money from school budgets by reducing state monies in other areas.

The casinos have never increased monies received by schools. Before the new revenue was even determined, the state began cutting funding to the schools. Funding that the schools had received in the past was removed and spent by the state in other areas. By the time the schools received their casino dollars, those dollars had to be used to fill in the holes where the state had removed previous guaranteed monies.

What I saw on the list was not the rural schools receiving much needed monies, but the larger of the small town schools. Why is that? Those smaller schools do not have the benefit of industry dollars. They also have the highest enrollment of low income families. I do not see a true boost to the state's schools' budgets.

-- Posted by trixie3 on Tue, Oct 14, 2008, at 11:45 AM

Greywolf: I have to agree with you on this one. It's gambling money supporting gambling.

-- Posted by insider63785 on Tue, Oct 14, 2008, at 12:12 PM

Long time Cape Resident,

yes indeed it is...well said!

You see,you and I do agree on several issues.

Life is good!

-- Posted by GREYWOLF on Tue, Oct 14, 2008, at 12:56 PM

This bill is for casino's, by casino's. No vote for justice.

-- Posted by grandma73 on Tue, Oct 14, 2008, at 1:20 PM

As I see it, this is gambling money from SOMEWHERE else supporting our local schools, and we don't have to have the problem of a casino in Cape to receive the money. It also costs us no new tax increases and I am for that. Let's put someone else's money to work in Cape Girardeau and leave the problems of gambling to those communities that want it. We don;t need it in Cape but we CAN take the new revenues!

-- Posted by JDSquane on Tue, Oct 14, 2008, at 1:36 PM

Buddy you said among other things,"leave the problems of gambling to those communities that want it.

If you recall the Citizens of CAPE spoke loudly and voted to allow a casino in Cape!If it were built and opened(as it should be)not only would the schools benefit but so would the City.Why would you deny a buisness to open?Have you forgotten the jobs it may produce?Perhaps you have neglected to realize that these jobs equate to more tax base which equates to less need to raise them.Your argument does not hold water.

-- Posted by GREYWOLF on Tue, Oct 14, 2008, at 4:37 PM

Must go with the Wolf on this one. This proposition is merely a wolf in sheeps clothing (pun intended). Legislators will play the shell game with this. Schools will get no more funding. If you want some of that casino money then let a casino come to Cape.

Lets not block competition. Repeal the loss limit so casinos can compete and continue to compete with those from other states (Illinois and Mississippi). Also repeal the statute or whatever it is that makes it unlawful to give alcohol to patrons gambling. Tunica does this as does Vegas. St. Louis is one of the largest gambling areas in the country now behind Vegas and Atlantic City.

A casino in Cape will not be the ruin of the town nor its savior. It will be another business that can provide opportunity and jobs as well as some entertainment and diversity. It will attract tourists who will spend money as well.

PLEASE VOTE NO ON THIS MISLEADING PROPOSITION!!

-- Posted by SWBG on Tue, Oct 14, 2008, at 6:07 PM

Actually, the Southeast Missourian said the first citywide election on June 8, 1993, had casinos voted down 53% to 47%, with a margin of 565 votes. When it was back on the ballot in November of 1993, it passed by just 425 votes. That is not a whopping majority. Cape does not want a casino.

-- Posted by JDSquane on Tue, Oct 14, 2008, at 7:06 PM

Eliminating loss limits and competition will be a financial bonanza for casinos. But if voting yes will keep a casino and the problems it would bring out of Cape, it would be worth it.

-- Posted by tom on Tue, Oct 14, 2008, at 9:38 PM

One of these days I may be fortunate enough to meet Greywolf in person. I plan to argue a lot. But today he is very right.

VOTE NO!

Where can I get a "NO" sign for my yard?

-- Posted by c'monnowppl on Tue, Oct 14, 2008, at 10:17 PM

"Nothing is free"

"You get what you pay for"

"Buy a diamond ring for ten cents and it likely ain't worth a dime"

"If it sounds to good to be true - it probably is"

Old sayings, all, but still sound.

I guess the good samaritans behind the Casinos could just want to help the schools, but not very likely.

I am opposed to a Casino in Cape (or anywhere else for that matter) but if the citizens vote it in, I'm OK with it.

The people of this great nation have passed monopoly laws to prevent exactly what this proposition is trying to legalize. What comes next, one car dealership, one gas station, one grocery store?. Control the compitition and you can name your own price.

I don't want a Casino in Cape but I will certainly vote against a bill that would make new compitition illegal.

-- Posted by malan on Tue, Oct 14, 2008, at 10:32 PM

Very, Very, well posted malan. Common sense.

Now where's my sign?

-- Posted by c'monnowppl on Tue, Oct 14, 2008, at 10:48 PM

My comment,

VOTE NO, FOR GAMBLING IN OUR TOWN ! if you want cape to have all the unruliness, gangs and all that comes along to where this kind of action is located then vote yes. If you want a quite safe town VOTE NO !

Cape has big city boy's running this town now and I say if you want to live in a big city GUY'S, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO LEAVE ! We don't want it here. And as for as what the school would receive, WELL, WELL, We have been TAKEN DOWN THIS ROAD BEFORE.

You lie as bad as BARRY AND WE ALL KNOW WHO HE IS AND WHERE HE WHATS TO LEAD OUR COUNTRY.

PLEASE VOTE NO ON THE BOATS !!!

AND YES FOR YOUR FREEDOM !!!

Monk

-- Posted by monk on Wed, Oct 15, 2008, at 12:33 AM

It's a shame all you HIPPO-CRETS can't just face reality, which is seeing things the way they really are, and acting accordingly, all I hear is quit raising our school taxes but you want your school to be the best at everthing, sports, acadimics. etc. but you don't want to pay the price. Let the boats come on in, I have seen several of you people at a couple of the boats, in some out of town night clubs. So I don't want to hear your b/s.

-- Posted by badagolfer on Wed, Oct 15, 2008, at 1:16 AM

Who cares if they want to bring a boat to Cape. Do you know how many jobs that will bring? BUt all you people are worried about is people will get addicted to gambling or it will bring more crime. BLAH BLAH. ALl of you need to get with the times! We no longer live in a society where everyone is going to know everyone or neighbors help neighbors. If you dont like gambling then dont go if they boat comes to Cape.

-- Posted by JaxIndians01 on Wed, Oct 15, 2008, at 1:34 AM


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