Know Your Ballot: What is Proposition A?
In just over a week, Missourians will head to the polls in a historic election. On every ballot will be three propositions which, if passed, will change Missouri law. And yet, there still remains a great deal of confusion about what they would mean for the state. In our special election series, “Know Your Ballot,” KSMU’s Jennifer Moore explains these initiatives, beginning with “Proposition A.”
A truly democratic society consists of not just voters, but informed voters. While most Missouri voters know which boxes they’ll be checking for president and governor come next Tuesday, many will go into the polling booth without having decided much more than that.
But all Missouri voters will be asked to either pass or reject “Proposition A.”
So what is Proposition A exactly, and who stands to benefit from it?
Proposition A is a measure that deals with Missouri casinos and their revenue.
If you vote “Yes” on Proposition A, you’ll be voting for the state of Missouri to do several things:
Firstly, you’d be voting to repeal the limit that’s currently in place on how much a person can lose per gambling session. Currently, Missouri law stipulates that an individual has to stop gambling after he or she loses 500 dollars. That’s a law that’s unique to Missouri. Proposition A would not only repeal that limit, it would also prohibit any future loss limits.
Prop A would require ID to enter a gambling area if a person appears to be under 21.
It would prevent any additional casinos from being built.
It would increase the casino gambling tax from 20 percent to 21 percent, and it would create a new specific education fund from gambling tax proceeds—which would go to Missouri schools.
Proponents of Proposition A have pushed the idea that the measure would result in additional funding for Missouri schools.
Scott Charton is spokesman for the “Yes on A Coalition.”
"Proposition A provides over 100 million dollars each year in new school money from casino revenues," Charton says. "Now, that increases school funding statewide without increasing any taxes on Missouri residents."
Prop A would bring more money to Missouri schools, although those monetary figures are estimates. The Missouri Constitution already mandates that a percentage of casino revenues goes towards education; saying Yes to Proposition A would increase that amount.
Charton acknowledges that Proposition A is first and foremost a casino initiative. He says Missouri law needs amending because the current 500 dollar limit on how much a gambler can lose per gambling excursion is actually hurting the state.
"Proposition A finally lets Missouri compete equally with neighboring states for casino visitors. That helps our economy. It helps protect 12,000 jobs at casinos across Missouri, including vendors who support the casinos," Charton said.
Supporters of Prop A also say the measure will curb underage gambling by requiring an ID, and will actually restrict the gambling industry from expanding, since it prohibits any new casinos from being built.
But opponents of Proposition A say it is exploiting Missouri schools to benefit what they say is a dangerous addiction: gambling. The Casino Watch Committee says Missouri’s current loss limit means the state is uniquely protected, and to repeal the limit on how much an individual can lose in a gambling session is contributing to that addiction.
A few opponents of Proposition A actually come from within the casino industry. That’s because, while the measure would mean more money for casinos, at the same time it restricts new casinos from being built.
Several teachers and superintendents are in favor of Proposition A. But others within the education system aren’t sure they want that money coming from casinos.
Norm Ridder is superintendent of Springfield Public Schools. He says he has several concerns about Proposition A."Number one is 'A' uses gambling to support education. What have we gone to, and really patrons and the state should be supporting it. [That's] number one. Number two, in these casinos, you tend to have the poor, lower middle class who gamble at these casinos, and if you take the limit off, I'm concerned about the welfare of those individuals, even though I know it's their choice," Ridder said.
Both candidates for Missouri governor—Republican Kenny Hulshof and Democrat Jay Nixon—have said they will vote “No” on Proposition A. They both say they want to keep the 500 dollar loss limit in place.
To read the entire Proposition A initiative, you can click on the link to this story from our website, ksmu.org.
For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.Links:Read The Entire Proposition A Initiative (Missouri Secretary of State's Website)