N.H. House Budget Writers Bet on Keno to Fund Full-Day Kindergarden

May 23, 2017

One of many locations where Keno is played in Massachusetts
Credit Brian Wallstin for NHPR

Budget writers in the N.H. House are eyeing the lottery game Keno as a way to fund full day kindergarten. The state senate has always opposed Keno and Governor Sununu says he's yet to see the details of the plan.

Linking Kindergarten and KENO does two things: it creates a source of revenue to pay for the house version of kindergarten, which at $14.5 million a year costs $5 million more than the senate-backed, targeted version.

It also creates leverage the house hopes will get the senate to pass Keno, which the house backs and the senate has repeatedly rejected.

A house budget panel is expected to finalize the proposal Wednesday, but after a unanimous straw vote in support, the panel's chairman, Karen Umberger of Kearsarge praised the committee's willingness to cooperate.

"Unlike many people we are willing to compromise. This whole thing has been a tremendous compromise."

Governor Sununu has made full-day kindergarten a priority. He proposed the more limited, targeting model adopted by the senate. He's also endorsed the more expensive plan passed by the house. He says he'll review the plan tying it to Keno.