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Kentucky Governor Steven Beshear Bets on Gambling Rev

Written by:
Jagajeet Chiba
Published on:
Jan/19/2010

While Kentucky Governor Steven Beshear continues to go after online gambling sites he calls "leaches to the state", his latest action is to balance the state budget through intrastate gambling.

Without the gambling revenue, Beshear said the state would need more than $850 million in cuts during the next two fiscal years, compared to about $78 million with it.

"Gaming revenue is the only practical option to begin funding long-term priorities with recurring revenue," the governor said in his budget address Tuesday night to a joint session of the General Assembly.

And, yes, there is opposition.

Beshear's bold and risky move - assuming revenue from a gambling bill that has not even been introduced in the legislature and is considered a long shot for passage - is expected to be hugely unpopular with lawmakers, the Louisville Courier reports.  Education and social service advocates are especially unnerved by Beshear's plans.

Eastern Kentucky University President Dough Whitlock told the Courier: "It really is the role of the legislature and the governor working together to determine the nature of what that revenue would be."

Robert Sexton, executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, told the Lexington Herald Journal on Tuesday that he was surprised Beshear would rely so heavily on the approval of expanded gambling.

Sexton said any ultimate solution to the state's financial problems must focus on reforming the state tax system and controlling health care costs.

Beshear argued that gambling revenue would recur year after year and would help the state reverse a trend of relying on one-time money for continuing expenses.

"It will provide a reliable source of income we can use year after year after year to make investments in the institutions and people of this state, to strengthen our efforts to emerge from this recession not shell-shocked and shattered, but ambitious and able," he said.

Jagajeet Chiba, Gambling911.com 

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