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Then-Assistant State Superintendent of Education Jessica Baghian, center, talks to three year old Lillian Widgeon, right, and Quentin Moore, III, left, while on a visit by State education leaders and local policymakers to the early childhood education center at Close to Home Daycare, Jan. 23, 2020 in Lafayette.

A once-in-a-generation opportunity to do the right thing right now for our young children and the future economic well-being of our great state is before us. While Louisiana has many financial needs, none are more important than a significant additional investment in early childhood education. The citizens and both parties of the Legislature agree.

New tax revenues from sports betting should be spent on early childhood education, in addition to current budgeted amounts. It’s that simple.

A recent poll commissioned by the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children and conducted by a Republican polling firm asked Louisiana voters where they want the state to spend these new dollars from sports betting.

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The poll showed strong and overwhelmingly bipartisan support for dedicated sports betting revenue to go toward early childhood education. Sixty-eight percent of all voters in Louisiana, and 63% of Republicans, want the Louisiana Legislature to direct sports betting revenue to early childhood education, not to the state’s general fund.

Voters strongly support taxing gaming facilities (80%) and online sports betting (78%) to support early childhood education, and at least two in three support taxing nicotine, recreational marijuana, and alcohol to increase funding for early childhood education.

In 2021, the Louisiana Legislature has a historic chance to change the future for our children. We know that the people of Louisiana want our leaders to invest new revenues from sports betting in a way that will be transparent for taxpayers and sustainable for decades to come.

Thanks to the poll, we also know that the voters of Louisiana want the biggest impact possible from these dollars. That means a significant additional investment in early childhood education.

ROBERT BURGESS

retired hospital administrator

Baton Rouge