Lawmakers and the governor have different ideas on how to deal with Kentucky’s lack of revenue, but with a new house speaker comes a new plan of raising money, but one that will be met with some opposition.
Greg Stumbo says Kentucky’s signature industry is facing competition in the form of slot machines and video lottery terminals.
“I am convinced that if we don’t do something for our racing industry,breeding industry, we will lose those, " says Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, whose nomination as Speaker of the House was approved in the full Kentucky House on Wednesday.
But Stumbo says more gambling choices, by combining horse racing and casinos in the form of “racinos,” could also put hundreds of millions of dollars into Kentucky’s General Fund.
“Our LRC (Legislative Research Commission) economist indicates that it’s about $400 to $500 million revenue to the state,” said Stumbo.
But Kent Ostrander with The Family Foundation says Kentucky should not be balancing its budget on the back of gambling citizens.
“Kentucky cannot afford to lose that much money in order that government can remain the status quo,” said Ostrander.
Stumbo says his plan does not involve free standing casinos, and unlike last year’s legislation, it would not require an election to vote the issue in.
“There’s no requirement in the constitution that calls for that, period,” said Stumbo, who acknowledged a legal challenge could likely be made to that.
But Ostrander says any kind of expanded gambling should be met with a vote.
“And a vast majority of the people, 80%, feel like they should be involved in this decision if casinos are brought to Kentucky,” said Ostrander.