Missouri voters next Tuesday will decide on whether to approve a new lottery ticket with funds earmarked for veterans services.
It’s an issue that state Rep. Sheila Solon, R-Blue Springs, has pursued for several years. She said there’s been little or no formal campaigning for or against the issue this summer.
“It’s definitely grass roots,” she said, adding that American Legion and VFW posts have been getting the word out.
State lottery proceeds goes to education, but Solon said in eight General Assembly hearings over several years no one has spoken against the veterans ticket, and she said no educators have contacted her with concerns. Other states that have started lottery tickets for veterans, she said, have not seen a falloff of other lottery sales.
The state lottery would start the new ticket by July 1, 2015, and the money would go into a capital improvement fund for three purposes:
• The state’s seven veterans homes, which have 1,350 residents and a waiting list of 1,690.
“The wait time is nine months,” Solon said.
One home, in Mexico, Mo., is not up to federal standards and needs to be upgraded or perhaps replaced. The state also could begin setting aside money to add an eighth home at some point.
• Maintenance of the state’s five veterans cemeteries.
• Restored funding for outreach programs so veterans can get to all of the services available to them. Officials say every dollar spent on that yields $256 in benefits.
“The veterans outreach program is important – very important,” Solon said.
The price and format of the lottery ticket would be up to the Lottery Commission, and Solon said its success would depend largely on how well the lottery markets the new ticket. She said other states have done well with the idea: $10 million in Illinois since 2006, $10.2 million with a scratch-off ticket in Kansas since 2007, $2 million to $3 million a year in Iowa with a pull-tab.
“This is not a way to fully fund our veterans programs, but it will help,” Solon said.