Newest state senator predicts education will get more money, casinos have 'best chance' in 2014

12/23/2013 09:29 PM

Lawmakers will find extra money to increase funding for education, predicted Reggie Thomas, who will be sworn in as the newest state senator next week.

Thomas, a Democrat who won a special election earlier this month to replace Kathy Stein in the Senate, told Pure Politics on Monday that he didn’t think schools would go a third consecutive two-year budget cycle without an increase in state funding.

“I don’t believe that’s going to happen,” Thomas said (3:15). “I think we’ll find money to make some increases.”

Thomas said the General Assembly could find some money by shifting around priorities in spending or perhaps long term through extra revenue from casino gambling, adding that he believes 2014 will be the “best chance we’ve seen in the last 20 years” to pass a constitutional amendment allowing casinos (watch that discussion at 4:00).

Thomas will be sworn in Thursday, Jan. 2, at 11 a.m. at the Lyric Theater and Cultural Arts Center.

Thomas has requested to be on up to four committees. The interview starts with Thomas outlining his requests.

Thomas said among the other issues he plans to work on are supporting Rep. Jesse Crenshaw’s push to allow automatic restoration of voting rights for non-violent felons as well as placing a cap on interest rates for payday lenders.

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