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Gov. Steve Beshear Pushes for Slot Machine Installation at Kentucky Racing Tracks

Governor Steve Beshear urged legislators on January 20th, 2010 to allow slot machines at Kentucky horse racing tracks as a way to avoid significant budget cuts and mass layoffs of state employees.

Gov. Beshear said that Legislators could produce $780 million for the state government over two years by permitting the racing tracks to install video slot machines.

The slots proposal has proven to be a divisive issue in the past in Kentucky, where political officials historically have been against casino-style gaming despite a history of betting on horse races, lotteries and bingo. Although the proposal faces considerable odds, Beshear said that it is a good means of resolving the financial woes of Kentucky and he challenged legislators to approve it.

Gov. Beshear said that his state budget proposal includes no tax increases for fear of affecting Kentucky's fragile economy. Beshear said that without the revenue from slot machines, the state government would face cuts of more than 12% over the first year of the two-year budget proposal and 34% in the following year.

That is in addition to the twenty percent to twenty-five percent cuts already made in many Kentucky agencies. Under Gov. Beshear's budget proposal, gaming revenues would help protect the current funding levels for health care, public safety, education and job creation.

The governor also said that he is hopeful that Congress might approve a second round of funding to assist states like Kentucky balance their state budget. If that happens, Gov. Beshear said that 1% pay raises to teachers and state employee would be among his plans for the additional money.

Beshear said that his budget proposal is a responsible way to help the state government survive the ongoing financial crisis. Gaming critics objected to Gov. Beshear's statement that gambling is a good option.

Martin Cothran, a spokesperson for Say No To Casinos, said that private groups and private individuals are cutting back on their expenses and there is no reason that the Kentucky government cannot do the same thing.

Cothran said that he does not believe that Beshear's slots proposal has enough support to pass the Senate and House. But if it did, Cothran said that he expects a lawsuit to question the constitutionality of the decision.


Sunday, 21 February 2010
Darren G. Strachan