Veterans home funding increase leaves early childhood education short

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MT. VERNON, Mo. — Gov. Jay Nixon toured the state this week touting improvement in funding for Missouri’s veterans homes. Under the new law, lawmakers have established a dedicate fund of $32 million annually for the facilities, serving more than 1,300 veterans. (Photo is a screen shot from MNH video of Nixon signing veteran's bill)

The funds come from Missouri riverboat casino fees, some of which had previously gone to early childhood education programs in the state, leaving some of the programs underfunded by $14 million.

Nixon, speaking with reporters in Mt. Vernon, Mo., after a bill singing ceremony for the veterans home legislation, said his arms are tied in terms of increasing funding for early childhood education without appropriation authority from the General Assembly.

“It’s concerning to me and concerning to a lot of folks that are involved with early childhood programs across the state,” Nixon said. “We’ll work to do what we can, but if we don’t have the authority to expend the money, then you can’t expend the money.”

Funding for early childhood education, as well as a dedicated funding source for veterans homes, was in Nixon’s proposed budget. Lawmakers designated some funds from the national tabacco settlement to the programs, but to make up the $14 million deficit, the programs are now reliant on an increase in state lottery revenue.