Both sides sound off on gambling proposal

Published 6:15 am Thursday, October 28, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - At first glance, Proposal 1 seems like a good idea, but those who oppose the ballot issue claim it threatens funding to all Michigan schools.
The proposal would require voter approval of any form of gambling, including new state lottery games utilizing "table games" or "player operated or mechanical devices," retroactive to Jan.1, 2004.
If the proposal were to pass, the results would be "catastrophic," Doug Law, Niles Community Schools Superintendent, said.
According to the Michigan Association of School Administrators, if proposal one were to pass Nov. 2, the Michigan School Aid Fund would lose $62.8 million in the 2005 budget year.
The Michigan School Aid Fund received $644 million from the state lottery in the 2004 fiscal year.
A decrease to state funding the district can not afford to absorb. The district recently approved a budget for the next school year which included an $800,000 deficit.
Over the next three years, the effect of proposal one would cause the school aid fund to lose approximately $600 million.
Supporters of the proposal argue the proposal won't have a negative impact on school funding.
Fitz said in the event the proposal does lead to a decrease in school funding, he is confident voters will make the right decision.
Putting the decision to allow new forms of gambling in the hands of local voters is an important matter because it would give them the authority to stop a new casino opening in their community.
Those poor individuals gamble with funds which could be better used to support their families, Fitz said.
While Fitz feels the proposal is not perfect, it is a step in the right direction.
Law said the proposal seems poorly written and is not very well organized.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm has gone on the record in opposition of the proposal due to the apparent impact it would have on school funding.
The Michigan Education Association has also come out against proposal one and Michigan school districts have followed suit.