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Education Funding Could Take A Hit As Lotto, Gaming Revenue Drops

Credit (via Flickr/Robert S. Donovan)

The amount of money education in Missouri receives from casino gaming and the lottery is down significantly, according to Gov. Jay Nixon's budget office.

As of July 1, the state has taken in $94 million in revenue from the lottery; that's about 2 percent less than the nearly $96 million collected a year ago at this time. The state has also collected $107 million from  "riverboat gambling," a 1 percent decline from the $108.1 million collected a year ago. Budget Director Linda Luebbering said if the current rates of decline continue, it would result in a budget shortfall of $65.7 million.

"The governor is obviously responsible for insuring that the budget stays in balance, so the governor would need to take some actions at some point in the fiscal year if the situation doesn't correct itself," Luebbering said.

In other words, withhold money from the current state budget, and Luebbering says those spending restrictions would have to come from education.

"He had to do that last fiscal year because gaming and lottery (revenues) were short, and we're watching it closely," Luebbering said.  "The governor (has) not made any specific decisions yet around exactly what he would do specifically to make sure the budget stays in balance."

Nixon, a Democrat, could see significant pushback from Republican lawmakers if he decides to withhold money from education. A constitutional amendment passed by Missouri voters earlier this month allows the legislature to reverse any budget withholds made by the governor.

Meanwhile, the incoming speaker of the Missouri House, John Diehl, R-Town and Country, has also proposed eliminating the Missouri Lottery, calling it a "dishonest way to fund public education."

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

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