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Dems want Charlie Crist's Seminole gambling money in education

What happened to using gambling money to fund cash-strapped schools?

That was the Florida House Democrats' reaction to the news Wednesday and late Tuesday that any dollars from Gov. Charlie Crist's proposed Seminole gaming compact would be used to fill drained state savings accounts -- instead of boosting funding for K-12 education.

The Legislature still has to approve the gaming deal, which would give the Seminole Tribe a monopoly on some slot machines outside of Miami-Dade and Broward. But pulling it out of the education pot means the state budget can be passed without it -- and gambling opponents, particularly in the anti-gaming House, can vote against it without looking like they're voting against education.

"This is shameful because the only reason many people support an expansion of gambling is because they are told it will help Florida's education system," Rep. Martin Kiar, a Davie Democrat, said in a statement.

Supporters of the compact -- which Crist unveiled to much fanfare earlier this month -- say it could provide a more dedicated source of income for schools, which depend on plunging property and sales tax revenues. Opponents have called it short-sighted.

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