Should Keno pay for full-day kindergarten?

May 24, 2017

BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights

While there is general political consensus among Democrats and Republicans that full-day kindergarten is a good idea for New Hampshire schools, finding the funding has proved difficult.

One idea proposed this week is to finance full-day kindergarten with proceeds from Keno. That means, however, that Keno would have to be legalized in New Hampshire.

In promoting the need for full-day kindergarten, Gov. Christopher Sununu proposed $18 million -- $9 million in each of the two years of the biennial budget -- to reimburse schools districts that implement a full-day kindergarten program. Inclusion of the funding in his budget proposal won praise from Republicans and Democrats alike.

“Children in full-day kindergarten can show lasting gains in academic achievement, increased graduation rates, and lower crime rates,” Sununu said.

However, the money has been elusive. Budget writers in the House and Senate cut kindergarten funding because they did not think revenue projections were sufficient to allow for it, citing the need to fund other priorities.

To address the shortfall, this week members of the House proposed linking kindergarten funding to Keno, which is a game of chance based on the drawing of numbers that must correspond with selected numbers on cards purchased by the player.

HB 560 was offered earlier in this legislative session to allow Keno games in New Hampshire with local municipal approval. The measure targeted 8 percent of proceeds for the venue licensed to host the game, the remainder would go to school funding and gambling addiction prevention and treatment.

That bill already passed the House. It is being considered by the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Specifically targeting Keno revenue to full-day kindergarten does two things: it funds a program that supporters argue improves educational outcomes for children, and it gives Keno supporters leverage for its passage. The state Senate historically has opposed Keno. Gov. Sununu has been noncommittal on the issue.

Opponents don’t want to tie full-day kindergarten to a form of gambling, since lawmakers time and time again have resisted other forms of gambling (such as casino) to finance certain state services, including education.

Others question the value of full-day kindergarten programs altogether. "If we've got that money, I would prefer to see it go to where we've already promised our taxpayers it will go, instead of starting a new program that we can't fund," said Rep. Victoria Sullivan.

Do you think Keno should be legalized to fund full-day kindergarten? Share your opinion in the comments below.

Comments

Ernie Bridge
- Newport

Tue, 05/30/2017 - 3:16pm

All day kindergarten is tax supported daycare, a bad idea no matter how it's funded.

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