The Richmond Register

Local News

February 15, 2013

Stumbo suggests instant racing to help fund pension systems

FRANKFORT — FRANKFORT - House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, suggested Friday that Kentucky should use state proceeds from instant racing to fund the state’s badly underfunded pension systems.

The suggestion came on the same day the Lexington Herald-Leader reported Keeneland thoroughbred racetrack has joined with a Nevada-based casino company, Full House Resorts, to purchase land near Corbin and open a quarter horse track there.

Part of that deal is to purchase Thunder Ridge harness track in Prestonsburg and re-invent it as a quarter horse track with instant racing at the new Corbin site.

Also on Friday, Democratic Sen. Johnny Ray Turner, also of Prestonsburg, filed a bill that would resolve the legality of instant racing which is currently before the state Supreme Court.

Instant racing or “historical racing” was approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission in 2010. Betters place bets on races which have already been run. But the better doesn’t know the results of those races, placing bets and watching the race using a machine similar to slot machines.

A Franklin Circuit judge ruled such games constitutional because bets are placed into a pari-mutuel pool, but the ruling was challenged and the issue awaits a ruling by the Supreme Court. Turner’s bill would end any question of the legality of instant racing.

Stumbo said if the Keeneland-Full House Resorts deal goes through, the purchasers “would make Floyd County whole,” referring to bonds the county issued to build Thunder Ridge.

Turner told The Courier-Journal those bonds were a factor in his decision to file the bill, a decision he apparently made after learning of the Keeneland and Full House Resorts would purchase Thunder Ridge.

Stumbo said if instant racing, which is already underway at Dueling Grounds in Franklin and Ellis Raceway at Henderson, were expanded to all the tracks, the state could realize between $25 million and $30 million which the state could then apply to unfunded liabilities of the pension funds.

Kentucky’s various pension funds face unfunded liabilities exceeding $30 billion. The Senate has passed a bill sponsored by Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, which is based on the recommendations of a bi-partisan tax reform which studied the pension problem last year.

That bill would place new employees into a hybrid cash-balance play while retaining current benefits for existing employees and retirees. It also would end cost-of-living adjustments for retirees. The bill would affect state employees but not the teachers’ retirement fund.

But a key recommendation of the task force is that the legislature begin next year making the full annually required contribution (ARC) to the pension funds — about $327 million next year. While the Senate bill adopted the other task force recommendations, it only states the legislature’s “intent” to fully fund the ARC. It does not specify from where the money will come.

Stumbo has repeatedly said he wants a “dedicated funding stream” before the House approves the Senate bill. He has mentioned raising the cigarette tax for that purpose as well as talking Friday about the possibility of revenues from instant racing.

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, and Thayer were cool to Stumbo’s idea. They have maintained the ARC can be funded next year through predicted revenue growths, without new taxes or new revenues.

“It seems as if the Speaker is kind of like throwing anything up and seeing what will stick because yesterday he was all for a cigarette tax,” Stivers said. “Now he’s changed to racing. So, I’d like to be what he’s going to be for on Tuesday when we return.” (The legislature is off Monday for Presidents’ Day.)

Stivers said the Senate would be reluctant as well to get involved in a matter already before the courts.

“We have been pretty consistent (in the Senate) in my 16 or 17 years that, while things are in litigation, the legislature shouldn’t involve themselves,” Stivers said. “If you attempt to do that, you are influencing the courts, so the best course of conduct is to just to refrain and let the natural course of the legal system take its course and go from there.”

Ironically, Thayer has previously sponsored bills to allow instant racing and he welcomed the idea of a new facility like that planned for Corbin.

But he echoed Stivers’ comments about a different idea every day on pensions from Stumbo.

Late Friday afternoon, Stivers issued a statement concerning expanded gambling as well, saying the Republican caucus discussed the issue but Republican Senate leadership concluded there wasn’t sufficient sentiment or time to address it in a short session.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at

Text Only
Local News
  • 4-20 Shoulders-B.jpg Eggs fly at park

    Easter has probably never been so “eggstravagant” in Richmond as it was Saturday during the annual Eggstravaganza in Irvine-McDowell Park.
    For the first time, thousands of eggs were dropped, appropriately by an “eggbeater”-type helicopter, in addition to thousands of eggs already scattered on the grass below. Together, they numbered about 10,000, according to Erin Moore, Richmond Parks and Recreation director.

    April 20, 2014 12 Photos

  • City awaits funds for Water Street project

    Richmond city officials are still awaiting word on grant funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the Water Street drainage project.
    However, Mayor Jim Barnes said he is confident the money should come through by May 1.

    April 20, 2014

  • Kitcarson1.jpg Elementary schools built in ‘60s getting upgrades

    Renovation of three Madison County elementary schools built in Richmond during the 1960s will start this summer.
    The county school board voted Thursday to continue with the second phase of state paperwork required for the projects.
    With a target completion date of August 2015, renovations and alterations at Daniel Boone, Kit Carson and White Hall elementary schools are estimated to cost almost $12 million.

    April 20, 2014 9 Photos

  • KY 52 link to I-75 to be discussed May 13

    While a proposed link from Nicholasville to Exit 95 on Interstate 75 north of Richmond has garnered attention and organized opposition, the state also is developing plans to link I-75 to another community to the west.

    April 20, 2014

  • May 30 last school day for students

    After 16 snows days and two weather delays this winter, the Madison County School Board decided Thursday to end the school year on Friday, May 30.

    April 19, 2014

  • 4-19 TechExtra1.jpg Students showcase projects in Technology Extravaganza

    Madison County School students showed off just how tech savvy they can be during the district’s sixth annual Technology Extravaganza on Thursday at Madison Central High School. After the showcase, more than 350 students were honored for their work.

    April 19, 2014 7 Photos

  • 4-19 SchoolBoardJesseWard.jpg Ward honored for service; tech center named after him

    Retired Madison County educator Jesse Ward was recognized Thursday for his many years of service. To honor him, Superintendent Elmer Thomas announced the board’s decision to rename the district’s technology training center on North Second Street in Richmond the Jesse P. Ward Technology and Training Center.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-19 Brian Smith.jpg Berea man indicted on 24 child porn counts

    A Madison grand jury has indicted a Berea man on 24 counts related to child pornography.

    Brian J. Smith, 26, is charged with four counts of distribution and 20 counts of possession of matter portraying sexual performances by a minor.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-19 Gregory Powell.jpg Police apprehend burglary suspect

    An observant witness was able to help Richmond police catch a burglary suspect shortly after a break-in Thursday afternoon on Savanna Drive off Berea Road.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-18 PackTrack1a.jpg Walkers, runners of every age ‘Pack the Track’

    Waco Elementary and Model Laboratory schools students raised more than $8,000 (and counting) for the annual Pack the Track event at Eastern Kentucky University’s Tom Samuels Track Thursday, said Kim DeCoste of the Madison County Diabetes Coalition.

    April 18, 2014 14 Photos

AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

Should Richmond rezone the southwest corner of Main Street and Tates Creek Avenue to B-1 (Neighborhood Business) with restrictions to allow construction of a financial services office?

     View Results