FRANKFORT - Millions of dollars from casino gambling might seem like a good idea for advocates of the poor, disabled and elderly, with public health and human service programs facing deep cuts in state funding, but don't bet on it, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal.
"Obviously the budget cuts are disastrous, and we are anxious to have new revenue," said Sheila Schuster, executive director of the Kentucky Mental Health Coalition.
"But the coalition remains neutral on expanded gambling because of concerns we have for the social costs - compulsive gambling, substance abuse, domestic violence, child abuse," she said.
Children's advocates last week criticized Gov. Steve Beshear for a proposed two-year budget they say doesn't adequately fund the care of abused and neglected children. But they are not embracing casino gambling as a way to remedy the problem, reports the C-J.
Beshear's proposal, unveiled Thursday, calls for a constitutional amendment to allow 12 casinos that could generate roughly $600 million annually for the state. He estimated the licensing fees alone could produce about $500 million in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Bart Baldwin, president of Children's Alliance, an association of private agencies that care for children the state removes from abusive homes, said his organization has not taken a position on the issue, reports the newspaper.
But he noted that problem gambling - Beshear's plan would set aside up to $2 million a year for treatment - can add to stress on families, and "when it totally breaks down, that's when we end up with the kids."
Dick Brown, a spokesman for Beshear, told the Courier-Journal the administration recognizes "some of these groups are going to have their own point of view. We still believe the positive impact will benefit a number of groups."
Copright: The Louisville Courier-Journal