Richmond Major Blames Failed Casino Vote for Stripping $26.5 Million from Childcare Funding
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney has announced that $26.5 million in childcare program funding has been removed from the city’s future spending plans. The mayor attributes this funding cut to last week’s failed casino vote, in which 62% of Richmond voters voted against a $562 million casino project. This project would have generated critical tax money for early childhood care programs.
Stoney specifically blames the 39,768 residents who voted against the casino referendum for the loss of funding. Prior to the election, the mayor and the Richmond City Council had pledged that the majority of the tax windfall from the casino would go towards funding early childhood programs. Stoney had previously unveiled the Richmond Childcare and Education Trust Fund, a proposed government account that would only be formed if voters backed the casino scheme.
The casino’s upfront payment of $26.5 million would have been used to initially fund the account, and an additional $14 million would have been used to construct two new childcare centers. However, with 15,003 more votes against the casino project, Stoney announced that the $26.5 million payment would no longer be coming in. As a result, the city is left without adequate funds to support early childhood programs.
In response to the failed casino vote, Stoney expressed his disappointment and announced his plans to seek Virginia’s governor’s office in 2025. He also placed blame on the residents for rejecting the casino and the funding that would have benefited childcare programs.
With the city’s preferred gaming developer, Urban One, presumably giving up on its casino ambitions, Richmond officials are facing criticism for their choice of operator. Many residents have questioned why the city’s elected officials chose Urban One, a company with no experience in developing or running a casino, over more qualified firms.
Overall, the failed casino vote has resulted in the loss of critical funding for early childhood programs in Richmond, and the future of a casino in the city remains uncertain.