New Hampshire Approves Bill To Tax Keno

New Hampshire Approves Bill To Tax KenoA bill to levy taxes on newly approved Keno games in New Hampshire has just cleared the state House and Senate.

Inside NH Senate Bill 191

On Thursday, the House Representatives and Senate approved Republican-backed NH SB 191. The bill was proposed as a way to fund full-day kindergarten education with tax revenue from Keno. Though the bill was expected to receive criticism from Republicans and more acceptance from Democrats, the results were to the contrary.

The bill received a wide margin of favor from the House Representatives with a 251-111 vote, showcasing that the Republicans who were previously against state-funded Kindergarten and licensed Keno had a change of heart. Backing Governor Chris Sununu - who had started a pro-kindergarten agenda earlier this year - was one of the main reasons for the widespread Republican support.

"This is not a requirement for any town to adopt full-day kindergarten," stated Representative Karen Umberger (R-Kearsarge). "If you have it or plan to do it, you will get a minimum of $1,100 per pupil."

Opposition From The Senate

Though the measure passed the Senate with a 15-8 vote, many Democrats who typically back state-funded kindergarten were against the bill. They believe that NH SB 191 should offer more per student than the allotted minimum of $1,100.

There is currently an “adequacy” grant of $3,600 per child that school districts receive for students in grades 1-12. For half-day kindergarten programs, schools receive $1,800 per child from the state. Democrats were aiming for a bill that would give $1,800 per student for the second half of the kindergarten day, fully funded by tax revenue from Keno.

As it stands, 70% of the school districts in New Hampshire provide full-day kindergarten, with the second half of the day being funded by local property taxes. Though Democrats will not be able to have fully-funded kindergarten programs just yet, it is possible that the grant could increase to $1,800 as Keno revenues increase.

"We are hoping and expecting that Keno will eventually exceed the $9 million the Lottery Commission is projecting at this time," said Umberger.

The Final Steps

Now that the proposed bill has passed both chambers, it just awaits the signature of Gov. Sununu. Regardless of opposition, the passage of NH SB 191 in this sports betting state is expected to be valuable to future of New Hampshire children and families.

“The investments made today will give New Hampshire’s children a strong foundation for tomorrow’s future,” said Gov. Sununu. “Full-day kindergarten is good for children and families, and a critical tool in retaining our future workforce.”