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Oct. 9, 2012
TOPEKA A top official with the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services told lawmakers today that the agency has asked Gov. Sam Brownback to consider a major increase in spending on services for people with gambling addictions.
“We’ve asked for a significant increase, but we’ve not gone whole hog or crazy,” said Gary Haulmark, commissioner of community services and programs at KDADS.
Haulmark testified before the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. He said KDADS asked the governor to recommend that the Legislature spend roughly $4.2 million on problem gambling services in the fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2013.
In the current fiscal year, the department is expected to spend around $740,000.
Whether Brownback approves the proposed increase remains to be seen. He’s not expected to announce his spending proposal until after the start of the 2013 legislative session in January.
Haulmark said the proposed increase was driven by the fact that the state now has three casinos operating this year in addition to those on Native American reservations. He said KDADS had put together a four-year plan for preventing and addressing gambling addiction.
“Until this point,” he said, the state’s approach to the problem had been “uncoordinated.”
Most of the money, if approved, would be tied to state-funded grants to local programs, including community mental health centers and drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, he said.
In Kansas, 2 percent of the state’s gaming revenues are deposited in a Problem Gambling and Addictions Grant Fund and according to state law are supposed to be spent on “direct treatment of persons diagnosed as suffering from pathological gambling” or on “research regarding the impact of gambling on residents of Kansas.”
In recent years, lawmakers have used the fund for other purposes, including social services that had little or no connection to gambling.
The 2-percent set aside is expected to generate $8 million in fiscal 2013 and $8.7 million in fiscal 2014, according to KDADS officials.
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