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Audit: Changes to Prop. A violate the intent of voters

Missouri Auditor Susan Montee in 2008
Missouri Auditor Susan Montee in 2008

By Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis – State auditor Susan Montee said that changes the General Assembly made to 2008's voter-approved Proposition A cost the state's schools $21 million this fiscal year.

Proposition A removed the $500 loss limit at the state's casinos and froze the number of gaming licenses at 13. In exchange, the gaming companies agreed to increase their winnings tax by a percentage point. Any additional revenue from that increase was to be considered additional funding for schools.

"What we have now is, the new money is just being commingled in and because they have extra money coming from a different source, they actually cut the appropriations," Montee said. "So it is totally the new money got absorbed and the old money just got moved over to something else."

A spokeswoman for the Senate Republicans says the changes were intended to ensure that school aid flowed correctly and consistently to the schools.

Montee's review recommended lawmakers rescind the changes, which passed by a wide margin in 2009. Most of her audits make technical recommendations, not political ones, but the Democrat, who is running for re-election said lawmakers specifically asked her to perform this audit.

"This isn't something that we came in and said hey, let's take a look at it," Montee said. "They asked us to evaluate whether appropriations for elementary and secondary education have increased, and it also said we were supposed to analyze whether they were being used as intended. It is unusual, but our recommendation in this case is exactly what the legislature told us to do."

Read the audit here
Read the language of Proposition A here
Read the changes the lawmakers made to Prop A here