Rep. Dennis Keene’s Bill for Local Option Expanded Gaming Had First Hearing Friday
Frankfort, KY–Citing the need for more funding, representatives of the Governor Steve Beshear’s Office on Early Childhood spoke in support of additional revenue needed to support the investment in early childhood education and care during Friday’s meeting of the House Licensing & Occupations Committee, chaired by Representative Dennis Keene (D-Wilder). “Kentucky has a long tradition of supporting early childhood development, one that we must continue for the future economic well-being of our Commonwealth,” said Terry Tolan Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood. “But as we look at the past few years we see the impact the economic recession has had on our progress.”
Representative Keene filed House Bill 52 as a means to bringing much needed revenue into the Commonwealth by expanding gaming by a local option vote in counties with a population in excess of 90,000 or in cities of the fourth class or greater with an existing horse track. “It is feasible that we would have at least seven casinos operating in Kentucky fairly quickly which would help to solve our retirement funding problems and expand funding in much needed areas such as early childhood education, and would boost economic development in areas where votes choose to do so,” says Dennis Keene. “The local option approach puts the decision in the hands of the people who would be most affected by the decision.”
Under House Bill 52, tax revenues generated would be split three ways: one third going towards the retirement fund, one third to early childhood education and kindergarten and remaining third going towards job creation and economic development within the communities surrounding each gaming venue.
“House Bill would have a positive effect on the unfunded liability in the Kentucky retirement fund,” said Willaim Thielen, Executive Director for the Kentucky Retirement Systems.
Tourism, Arts & Heritage Cabinet Secretary Marcheta Sparrow also testified about the positive impact upon tourism in Kentucky. She spoke in support of the bill that would help areas with infrastructure dollars that will boost economic development and tourism, using Lawrenceburg and Rising Sun Indiana as examples where gambling dollars and transformed the communities.
Representative Dennis Keene has served the citizens of the 67th District since 2005 and is the chairman of the House Licensing and Occupations Committee, Vice Chairman of Economic Development, Vice Chairman on the Budget Subcommittee on Transportation and a member of the Banking & Insurance Committee. Keene is a small business owner and an economic development advisor for EGC Construction. For more information, visit: www.DennisKeene.com.