24th District Senate candidates favor vote on expanded gaming

10/24/2014 11:57 AM

COLD SPRING – Both candidates in northern Kentucky’s 24th district state Senate race favor a constitutional amendment which would let voters once and for all decide the issue on expanded gaming in the commonwealth.

Republican Wil Schroder and Democrat Jason Steffen met for their one and only debate on Thursday evening in Cold Spring. They are both vying to replace Senate President Pro Tem Katie Stine who decided not to seek reelection.

Steffen, an elementary school principal, thinks that offering limited casino gambling in northern Kentucky, would help the state keep some of the money which is leaving the state and going to casinos in neighboring Ohio and Indiana.

“I’m not in favor of putting casinos everywhere,” Steffen said. “I’m saying that we need to get our piece of the pie here in Kentucky. I’d like to see expanded gaming into Kentucky and have that money earmarked for education.”

While Schroder, a prosecuting attorney, favors letting the voters decide the issue, he warns that expanded gaming will not be a fix all.

“We’re already facing competition with Indiana and Ohio, so, at this point it’s really about keeping the money here, it’s not going to be a get out of debt free card for Kentucky,” Schroder said.

Both also agree that the new Brent Spence Bridge project should be built with federal funds and without tolls.

“What we’ve seen down in the General Assembly is the Mountain Parkway, the Bert T. Combs Highway, just was given 80 percent of the money for that expansion is going to come from state funds,” Schroder said. “The governor then turns around and expects the people of northern Kentucky to bare the brunt of the Brent Spence Bridge.”

Steffen says, because the bridge is of national importance for commerce, it should be paid for mostly with federal funds.

“It’s an economic lifeblood for our country yet the tolls are going to be unburdenly on the people of northern Kentucky.”

There were a number of issues that the two candidates disagreed on such as repealing the prevailing wage on state construction projects and raising the minimum wage.

Schroder felt that keeping the prevailing wage stifles economic development in the state.

“Let the market decide what is the appropriate wage for a builder,” Schroder said.

Steffen says that prevailing wage ensures that projects are built by the best people available.

“Prevailing wage ensures that we’re not bidding building projects based off costs,” Steffen said.

As for raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, Schroder opposes the idea saying that raising the minimum wage is going raise the unemployment rate while Steffen says that if the minimum wage is not raised to a living wage, the burden of supporting the families who live on minimum wage jobs is transferred to the taxpayers in the form of government entitlement programs for those families.

Schroder enjoys a significant fundraising edge over Steffen having raised $81,225. Steffen has raised $28,704.92.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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