Voter Guide To Missouri Amendment 8, The 'Veteran's Lottery Ticket'
Missouri Constitutional Amendment 8 is on the ballot Aug. 5 and would create a new lottery ticket that would allocate 25 cents of every dollar spent to fund the Missouri Veterans Commission.
“A "yes" vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to create a "Veterans Lottery Ticket." This amendment further provides that the revenue from the sale of these tickets will be used for projects and services related to veterans. A "no" vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution to create a "Veterans Lottery Ticket." If passed, this measure will have no impact on taxes”
What it means:
The Missouri Constitution currently only allows lottery proceeds to be spent on education. This would create an exception, introducing a specific lottery ticket to fund veterans’ services.
Supporters argue that amendment could be a major revenue source for veterans’ services. Missouri’s seven veteran’s homes currently provide services for around 1,350 veterans, with a waiting list of 1,900 others.
Even by optimistic projections it would take years to raise the $50 million for a new facility, but the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sheila Solon, a Republican from Blue Springs, argues that good can still be done in the short term. Increased veteran funding would allow the state to “address some of the concerns we have with the veterans' home in Mexico, Missouri, (which) is not meeting federal standards,” she stated.
A desire to give back to retired service members is also cited; both as a reason to support the bill and as an incentive for lottery customers to participate.
“There are people, like my husband, who are veterans and would never buy a lottery ticket, but they would buy this,” Solon added.
Opponents criticize lottery proceeds as an inappropriate funding mechanism. In addition to uncertainty – there are no projections for how much revenue a lottery ticket would generate – lotteries are seen by some as inefficient.
“You take a dollar from someone and you’re only giving the beneficiary back a few nickels,” said Rep. Jeremy LaFaver, a Democrat from Kansas City.
He and other opponents argue that veteran’s funding should come from general revenue.
While opponents have stopped short of arguing that a new lottery ticket would divert funds away from education, Sen. Paul LeVota, an Independence Democrat, has balked at the idea of pitting veterans against children.
However, education groups have remained neutral on the bill. Otto Fajen, legislative director of the Missouri National Education Association, stated, “We didn’t feel like it was as clear and significant enough of an issue to really take a position on.”
What it means for Kansas City:
If passed, Amendment 8 would impact the state veterans in all areas of the state. Other states have experienced varied results with veterans lottery tickets. Washington state’s lottery abandoned a raffle that sought to raise money for veterans after two years of poor sales. Iowa, on the other hand, has generated approximately $2 to $3 million since introducing a program in 2009. Illinois has experienced both ends of the spectrum, raising nearly $2.5 million for veterans in 2008, but only $715,000 in 2013.