House Committee OKs Pension Funding Bill That Relies on Gambling Dollars

The House budget committee has passed a bill that would help shore up Kentucky’s underfunded pension system by relying on gambling revenue.

House Bill 416 would take revenues from expanding Kentucky lottery sales and online games, as well as from Instant Racing—if the state Supreme Court upholds the legality of the game—and move the money to the struggling pension program for state employees.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo said the bill would generate at least $100 million a year to be put into a trust fund for pensions.  And he said using money from lottery sales won’t hurt scholarship funds tied to lottery profits.

“Those are left harmless, they’ll still be funded,” he said. “And they’ll be allowed 2 percent growth in this proposal so they’ll still continue to grow.”

Stumbo says the bill does not ask lawmakers to legalize Instant Racing.

“We’re not asking you to vote to legalize it. We’re simply saying if it is upheld, here is a fund that captures this money that’s used to pay off this unfunded liability in our pension fund. So we’re not asking you to vote to expand gaming,” he said.

The House State Government Committee passed an amended Senate Bill 2, a reform of the pension systems, earlier Tuesday. But the amended bill does not change the system as much as Senate leadership and a legislative task force had originally intended.

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