This from an August 2007 Bluegrass Beacon column, “Beauty and the gambling beast” about then-gubernatorial candidate Steve Beshear’s wager on expanded gambling to fix Kentucky’s fiscal woes seemed appropriate about now, since the issue is back.
If I was still wearing my reporter’s hat, I expect an interview with the candidate would go something like this:
Reporter: So, Mr. Beshear, what’s your plan for solving Kentucky’s education crisis?
Steve Beshear: We need to increase funding. Gaming money would do that.
R: But that’s not a new idea. You promised new ideas.
SB: Well, I mean expand gaming, which will raise $500 million more a year.
R: But that’s not a new idea. Politicians have said that for years. What about ideas that don’t require additional money, like holding schools accountable for how much their students are improving academically and offering parents a choice of schools for their kids?
SB: Uh … Uh…. Uh …
R: Surely, with a half-billion in additional gambling money coming in, taxpayers could expect tax cuts boosting our economy and giving Kentuckians more control of their earnings, couldn’t they? Which one would a Beshear administration cut first – the motor-vehicle tax? How about inheritance taxes? Perhaps you could lead the charge against the hated Alternative Minimum Calculation? Which one will you tackle first, sir?
SB: Next question, son.
R: Your Web site suggests Kentuckians’ lives can be improved primarily through expanded gambling. Yet the current budget is 25-percent larger than any spending plan offered during the Patton administration and contains a record level of debt. How much revenue is needed to adequately fund Frankfort’s empire?… Hey where’d he go? I guess the interview’s over.