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Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Lawrence delegation favors expansion

March 24, 2007

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— As lawmakers struggle over whether to expand gambling in Kansas, the Lawrence delegation in the House is philosophically in favor of it.

The need for additional state revenue and keeping Kansas dollars within the state were the major reasons cited for support.

"We have more needs than we have revenues," Rep. Barbara Ballard, a Democrat, said Friday.

Rep. Tom Sloan, a Republican, said he favored expansion of gambling, but has had problems with previous proposals.

"I don't have a problem with people spending their recreation dollars for gaming or golf or cruises," Sloan said.

"In the past, I have objected to designating the pari-mutuel racetracks as the destination locations. I always thought that should be put out to bid," he said.

Rep. Tom Holland, a Democrat from Baldwin City, said expansion of gambling would produce income for the budget.

"This is a way to bring additional revenues to the state and address things like crumbling classrooms and our KPERS fund," Holland said.

Regents universities have said they need $663 million to fix repairs at their institutions. The Kansas Public Employees Retirement System has a $5 billion gap between its assets and future obligations.

In addition to capturing additional revenue, Rep. Paul Davis, a Democrat, said setting up destination casinos also would help depressed areas of the state.

"I'm not a fanatic supporter of gaming, but the reality is that a majority of Kansas people want some form of expanded gaming," Davis said.

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