Beshear Tells Forum Gaming Could Cure Budget Woes

Cards and poker chips

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, KY -- Gov. Steve Beshear is hinting he will include gambling on the special session agenda, telling a Northern Kentucky University forum gaming could help cure the states budget woes, reports The Cincinnati Enquirer on-line.

"I've been a proponent of expanded gaming," Beshear, who ran on a platform to legalize casinos, said to a crowd of several hundred during the forum. "Most of the polling that I've seen on this issue, about 80 percent of the people in this area support expanded gaming in some form.

"There are some legislators who are thinking a little more favorably about the possibility (of casinos) because if we've got to have revenue from someplace, they would much rather get it there than from some kind of tax increase," he said.

As the state prepares to tackle a projected budget deficit of nearly $1 billion in the fiscal year that starts July 1, Beshear said gambling is a way to raise state revenue without raising taxes. Without being specific, he has said raising revenue is one of the issues he wants addressed in a special session.

The Kentucky General Assembly voted in February to increase taxes on retail sales of alcoholic beverages and cigarettes. Beshear supported the increases, but said during the forum that neither the public nor the legislature has the appetite for more tax increases, including a hike in the sales tax that has been mentioned but not formally proposed in Frankfort.

"We need the money, very simply," Beshear said. "Expanded gaming in other states has been successful in helping raise revenue in which you can include your education systems, improve health care for people, do all the kinds of things that government tries to do to improve the quality of life for people."

Many others disagree and say if gambling was such a great way to raise revenue, the legislature would have moved on it by now. There are also major details to be worked out, including how the money would be spent, reports NKy.Com, the on-line version of the Cincinati Enquirer.

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