Kentucky Lawmaker Suggests Closing Pension Debt with Casino Revenue
The State of Kentucky is facing a major challenge in trying to fix its gaping pension deficit. Even by the most conservative estimates, the state is looking at a deficit that goes over $30 billion. The deficit needs to be filled if it aims to pay its retired public workers in the next 3 decades.
However, there could be some light at the end of the tunnel.
Two State House Democrats are suggesting that the state consider the option of casino expansion to overcome the problem. If not completely, at least as one among many options.
Earlier this week, Rick Rand from Bedford and Dennis Keene from Wilder, filed Request 149; a legislation that proposes casino legalization in a Republican-controlled state. The proposal calls for the legalization process to include a constitutional amendment concerning casino gaming to be decided via a public referendum.
If the proposal goes through, it would pave the way for around 10 gambling facilities within the state. The facilities will be capable of generating around $500 million in the form of total revenue. This includes $325 million in one-time fees and $236 million in annual tax revenue.
Just the start
According to Keene, this is just the beginning of a discussion and that he intends to be as positive about it as possible.
However, there are powerful opponents. In this case, Republican Governor, Matt Bevin. Bevin made it clear in an earlier interview that he is against the idea of expanded gambling. According to the Governor, the benefits of gambling pale in comparison to the societal costs that come with it.
This is not the first time that pro-casino legislation is being tabled in Kentucky. An earlier pro-casino legislation failed, despite the house being controlled by Democrats and the Governor being Steve Beshear. The bill saw opposition from both sides on the grounds of morality. Even with pressure from Beshear’s side, the bill never saw the light of day.
Not giving up
However, Keene remains hopeful, citing the pension deficit as a key factor that just might turn the tide in his favor. He also stated that the ball was now in the Republican court with regard to finding a viable solution that would close the deficit.
The constitutional amendment will first need the approval of voters and then, a local referendum, in order to pass.
The bill also suggests handing over regulatory duties to The Kentucky Lottery Corporation.