The Kentucky Alliance for Jobs (KAJ) is comprised of business leaders from the Bluegrass State who want to put a constitutional amendment legalizing gambling on the November ballot. With nearby Cincinnati, Ohio’s casino construction already having a positive impact on northern Kentucky workers, some state officials want to see the influx of jobs and revenue come to Kentucky itself. Jim Cole, a member of the coalition and political director of the Northern Kentucky Central Labor Council, told the Cincinnati Enquirer:
“I consider it an unconscionable overreach of the government to prevent the voters of Northern Kentucky from making this decision,” Cole said. “As you know, there’s a casino being built in Cincinnati, and that’s putting a lot of construction workers from our area of Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati to work as we speak. It also points out for some of the objections to this, that anyone that wants to gamble from Kentucky has the opportunity. We’ve got everything but the paycheck.”
KAJ is a diverse group united by the belief that allowing Kentuckians to vote on gambling could help the state battle economic deficiencies. It represents the increasingly rare instance when business and labor interests are in agreement:
“We believe that new revenue is needed to adequately fund the needs of our classrooms,” said Stu Silberman, member of the Kentucky Education Action Team. “Invested wisely, we can build new schools, modernize existing schools and ensure that our children have the resources they need to learn and ultimately compete in the modern economy.”
A statewide poll recently found that 87 percent of respondents want to vote on gambling in November. KAJ acknowledges that the bill will not be able to pass until the legislature deals with redistricting, for which a date of March 1st has been set.
Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, expresses the urgency that has spurred the gaming debate. His comments are unique for a red-state Republican in that they question budget cuts as a cure-all:
“I think we’ve never felt the pressure we’ve felt today from a budget standpoint,” Stevens said. “The state has done a lot of things to try to adjust and use money from different places to patch holes, but now it’s really down to the bone. Being down to the bone means you’ve got come up with creative ways to generate new revenue. You can’t keep cutting your way to prosperity.”