GOP lawmaker agrees that legalized expanded gaming would help solve pension crisis

09/20/2017 01:28 PM

ERLANGER – Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, who was awarded the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce MVP Award on Tuesday for supporting their views in his voting record during the 2017 legislative session, believes that it’s not too late to bring gaming to the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, and Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford have prefiled legislation that would expand gaming in Kentucky, in an effort to generate revenue to pay down billions in pension debt, something that Koenig is open to.

“People in northern Kentucky say well, we’ve missed the boat, because they see all of the casinos in and around our area, but the fact of the matter is, yes, we can keep some of that money here, same with Louisville,” Koenig said. “Most importantly, we have a very long border with Tennessee and the only gambling that they have is the lottery. So, there is tremendous opportunity along the Tennessee border to generate a lot of money. The fact of the matter is that we have most, if not all of the issues associated with gambling, we’re not getting any of the revenue.”

A big part of Koenig winning the chamber honor was the fact that he voiced strong support for right-to-work and repeal of prevailing wage legislation for years before it was passed the first week of the 2017 session.

In addition, Koenig championed House Bill 296, which, if passed, would have updated the states’ workers’ compensation system by making changes to improve the efficiency of the system to reduce costs and ensure care of the injured worker with an emphasis on returning to work as soon as possible.

Koenig believes that right-to-work and repeal of prevailing wage bills have already had an impact across the state.

“Certainly with Brady Industries, that’s the most obvious example with right to work,” Koenig said. “There’s any number of new opportunities that economic developers across the state are seeing because of us being a right to work state. There’s tons of evidence that the repeal of prevailing wage is saving a great deal of money. Fort Mitchell, up here in northern Kentucky, saved $75,000 on a road project.”

The million dollar question in Frankfort is when will the special session on pension reform take place and will the governor and legislators come up with an effective long term solution.

Koenig is confident that a positive answer to that question will be forthcoming.

“It’s my understanding that the negotiations are ongoing, that they have been very fruitful, that they’re close, I think we will come up with something that will be a very solid bill that will move us forward in the direction that we need to go,” Koenig said. “The most important thing with this pension issue right now is we’ve had a system in Frankfort where everyone just looked to the next election. We are now looking 30 years down the road and we’re going to put us on a path of financial solvency when it comes to our pensions and I think history will judge us well.”

As for the 2018 session, Koenig will continue to work in areas where he has in the past to make Kentucky a more business friendly state.

“Worker’s comp reform will be at the top of the list, we’ve been working very hard on getting more support,” Koenig said. “I’ll be talking about my constitutional amendment to allow counties to remove constables, and my work on allowing counties to streamline the process by which two counties, if they want to merge, can.”

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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