Kentucky Lawmakers Should Look Beyond Gambling

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Lawmakers in Kentucky met this week in a special legislative session that started Monday. During Governor Beshear's opening address, he proposed solving the state's nearly $1 billion shortfall for the new fiscal year (which starts in less than two weeks) through spending cuts, federal stimulus dollars, and gambling. He

called on lawmakers to approve a proposal that would expand gambling at horse tracks to include casino-style gambling. He argued, "If we don't act now, our racetracks face declining status and even the certainty of closure."

The latter proposal isn't without it critics (after all, gambling is a notoriously regressive way to raise revenue). But proponents of the legislation are highly-organized. Wednesday hundreds of proponents of the legislation (including a two-time Kentucky Derby winning jockey) rallied in Frankfort in favor of increased gambling.

Yet, Governor Beshear's proposals miss an important opportunity. Instead of partially balancing the state's budget with gambling revenues, legislators would be better off to follow the advice outlined by Representative Jim Wayne in a recent op-ed. Rep. Wayne details the structural problems with the state's tax system and offers real reforms that could ensure Kentucky's tax structure is sustainable over the long term including sales tax base broadening, new top rates and brackets and the introduction of an Earned Income Tax Credit.

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