FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Gov. Steve Beshear said Monday evening
that every option deserves to be considered as legislative budget
writers grapple with a massive shortfall, signaling he hasn't given
up on legalizing video slot machines as a revenue source despite
Beshear met privately with House Democratic leaders for about 45
minutes in his office to discuss the budget. The meeting comes at a
time when House leaders are weighing a handful of options to
present to rank-and-file members to balance the next two-year
Afterward, House Speaker Greg Stumbo told reporters, "There's
going to be a lot of areas that probably won't receive the
attention or the funding that most of us would like to see."
Stumbo said staff from the governor's office and General
Assembly would cooperate as the budget is crafted but he downplayed
chances that expanded gaming will be part of the equation.
"We came here because we wanted him to know that regardless of
what he had proposed, it's not likely that there's going to be new
revenue from the source that he identified," Stumbo said. "And so
we need to move forward in the budget process."
A few moments later, after the House leaders departed, Beshear
conceded it would be difficult to pass legislation legalizing slot
machines at race tracks. The governor last month presented a budget
plan to lawmakers that assumed $780 million in gaming revenue.
"But I believe as you analyze where we are right now and what
our revenues are and what the deficit is over the next two years,
that every option out there deserves to be looked at," the
governor told reporters outside his office.
The state's general fund has been depleted by the recession,
leading to a projected $1.5 billion shortfall over the next
two-year budget cycle. That's on top of about $1 billion cut from
the current budget.
Beshear said some rank-and-file lawmakers have told him they'd
like to consider all options to overcome the massive deficit.
"Because I think the membership is just now becoming aware
in-depth of the situation," he said. "They know it's bad, but
they're just now beginning to get a good feel for what the
situation really is and how bad it really is.
"So I think all of that will develop over the next few weeks."
Beshear said he hasn't chosen a backup plan for additional
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