FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Two Republican senators have weighed in on one issue in the governor’s race by pronouncing any casino bill that arrives in their chamber “dead on arrival.”
Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, and Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, made the comment while condemning a proposal by Democrat Andy Beshear to legalize casino gaming.
Beshear says the revenue from gaming would help fund the state’s troubled public pension system, which is one of the most underfunded in the nation.
In a joint statement, Stivers and Thayer said:
“Andy Beshear has advanced the notion of legalizing land-based casino gambling in our state. This proposal has been sold to the people of Kentucky as a panacea for the Commonwealth’s financial concerns. We want to be abundantly clear, there is absolutely no chance any such effort would pass the Senate in an upcoming session. Any bill proposing casino gambling would be dead on arrival.
“Casino gambling is not something that will realistically pass the legislature and the revenue it would potentially bring is being drastically overstated. If such a bill were to be brought forward, it would not move in the Senate. This proposal will not generate the revenue to fix concerns related to our pension systems and increase teacher pay.
“The Senate will continue to develop legislation that creates a better economic environment for the cultivation of job opportunities, which will ultimately lead to more income tax revenue, but casino gambling will be unequivocally off the table.”
Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, who is seeking re-election, added his thoughts to those of the two GOP Senators:
“We all know that Andy Beshear will have to raise our taxes to pay for all the things he is promising. The Senate leadership has made it very clear that they will not support casino gambling. Past legislative votes show that the opposition to Andy's gimmicks is overwhelmingly bipartisan.”
Responding to the Republican comments, Beshear Campaign Chairman Eric Hyers issued his own statement, saying:
“A pension is a promise and the reality is that we have to generate new revenue to fund this commitment. Andy Beshear will do this with the commonsense approach of expanded gaming.
“Millions of dollars in gaming revenue, dollars that could be used to shore up our pension system, are going across the border to states like Indiana.
“Matt Bevin is just pushing down the costs on cities, towns and quasi government agencies like rape counseling centers after his illegal attempt to cut pensions failed. Andy will work across the aisle to get this done, regardless of the political rhetoric that gets thrown out during the final days of a political campaign.”