Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

February 19, 2013

Redistricting, pension fix remain hot topics

(Continued)

FRANKFORT —

Stumbo suggested the state take from those games could pay for the annually required contribution to the pension system, estimated at $327 million next year. The Republican Senate president, Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, has said projected revenue growths are enough to fund the pension fix.

But Gov. Steve Beshear says the projected revenue growth will be eaten up replacing one-time money in the current budget and natural growth in Medicaid and other programs.

Beshear said Tuesday he’s always supported the idea of instant racing but thinks the revenue will be insufficient to provide significant general fund revenues that casino gambling would create. But he said he sees no likelihood of casino gambling passing this year.

While the governor didn’t specifically endorse Stumbo’s suggestion to use instant racing revenues or money from an increase in the cigarette tax, he said he appreciates the Speaker’s attempts to find ways to fund the pension system fix.

He agrees with Stumbo that some funding source must be found if lawmakers approve the other measures in the Senate bill.

“The one thing I’m not going to do is to arrive next January, when we have a budget session and many of the legislature look at me and say, ‘Well, if you need a $100 million to put in the pensions plan, go find it someplace,’” Beshear said.

“We’ve already found all that money,” the governor continued. “We’ve balanced our budget for five years; we’ve cut $1.6 billion out of our budget over the past five years. There aren’t any more big pots of money.”

Stumbo said some combination of revenues from an increase in the cigarette tax and other revenue sources such as instant racing might be in the final House plan.

But he saw no likelihood that tax reform will pass in the 30-day non-budget session which requires a three-fifths majority to pass revenue measures.

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