NH Communities Take a Gamble on Kindergarten Funding, Say Yes To Keno in Tuesday's Voting
CONCORD (AP) — Seven communities approved keno Tuesday.
Residents in Berlin, Claremont, Somersworth, Laconia, Manchester and Nashua all voted to approve the electronic bingo game keno in bars and restaurants in an effort to raise money for full-day kindergarten.
In Rochester, keno passed by a single vote. Several other communities rejected keno: Concord, Dover and Keene.
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed a proposal into law in July allowing money from keno to fund kindergarten programs. He left it up to individual communities to decide whether to allow it. Towns will consider it next year.
Voters in Franklin already had their election on a ballot measure last month, and approved keno. Officials in Portsmouth decided against putting it on the ballot.
Nearly 75 percent of New Hampshire communities already offer full-day kindergarten, but the state only pays half the standard per-student amount for those pupils, or about $1,800. Under the new law, the state will provide an additional $1,100 per full-day kindergarten student starting in 2019 and more in later years, depending on how much money is generated by keno.
Some opponents complain that keno will take money from those who can least afford it and will encourage addictive behavior.
State lottery commission officials estimate keno could raise $443 million for education. They said Massachusetts takes in $900 million a year in its keno game, with 2.5 percent of the money coming from New Hampshire residents.