House Speaker Greg Stumbo proposes gaming bill with college caveat; continues pitch for extended Mountain Parkway

09/02/2015 12:35 PM

Calling the latest expanded gambling measure “a horse of a different color,” House Speaker Greg Stumbo is detailing how a constitutional amendment can clear the General Assembly.

Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said his bill would solve some of the past hurdles associated with expanded gaming bills by limiting the number of casinos in the state to seven — one for each Congressional district and one at-large, mandating that only counties with 55,000 or more people qualify for the casinos and protecting locales with local-option approval.

The legislation would also define where revenue from casinos goes once it hits state coffers. Stumbo’s proposed legislation would split revenue with 40 percent going to elementary and secondary education; 30 percent to postsecondary education; 20 percent to the public retirement systems “or any other public purpose, as the General Assembly may decide”; and 10 percent for the horse-racing industry.

There is one caveat to Stumbo’s bill. Funding for post-secondary education is contingent upon a “physically present students-enrolled” public four-year university in the Appalachian region.

“I don’t know if the University of Pikeville is willing to be merged as a public university anymore,” he said.

“I do believe that if we’re going to answer the problem, or the plight, of Appalachia we have to do something about getting a four-year college up there,” Stumbo continued. “If you look across the state it’s pretty obvious there’s a great big hole in eastern Kentucky. And it’s pretty obvious that those institutions — Eastern and Morehead — primarily Morehead, that have been assigned to service that area have been absolutely negligent in getting that done.”

In an effort to help the region Stumbo has also proposed expanding the Mountain Parkway into West Virginia.

Stumbo said that expanding the parkway from Prestonsburg, Kentucky to Beckley, West Virginia would make “a tremendous difference in that region.”

The 140 mile extension project is estimated to cost approximately $8 to $10 billion and could be financed via a federal TIGER grant.

The interstate highway could also be partially funded via tolling, Stumbo said.

“We understand that it costs a lot money to build these roads, but there has to be a link to the east,” he said. “We can’t attract manufacturing jobs, because it’s quite simple — we can’t move our product to the east, so why would want to put your company there if you wanted to sell product to someone in the Carolina’s — or someone in Virginia?”

The House Speaker recently traveled to Washington D.C. to discuss the proposal where he met with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky; U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset; and former Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson who is now the director of the White House’s intergovernmental affairs.

Stumbo said he is currently coordinating schedules to organize a meeting this fall “with counterparts in West Virginia.”


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