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SOTC: Beshear and Bevin battle over the economy

Posted: 12:00 PM, Oct 13, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-13 12:00:43-04
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Governor Matt Bevin and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear have gone head-to-head about some of Kentucky's biggest issues.

Many of those come down to money, and both candidates have ideas for what they would do to bring more cash into the state.

Beshear has made it clear he's ready to go all in to expand gambling opportunities and keep cash in Kentucky.

"We already lose 550 million dollars of tax revenue from what Kentuckians bet in our border states in casinos alone," said Beshear.

On his campaign wesbite, Beshear points to a 2011 report from Spectrum Gaming Group that projects that in the first year of commercial gambling legalization, fewer than ten casinos could generate more than $1.7 billion in economic activity.

Beshear pledges to direct 100% of the tax revenue to fund the floundering public pension system.

"So yes, it's time for casino gaming. It's time to treat fantasy sports for what they are. It's time for sports betting, and we need to prepare for online poker which is coming," said Beshear.

But incumbent Governor Matt Bevin is skeptical that sports betting would have much of an impact on the pension system. He has suggested that the debate over expanding gambling be framed as a moral issue.

"These things are not solutions. They're fools gold is what they are. Would they generate revenue? Arguably. But this assumes there's no societal cost to these things. But the heart of the question is where, then, does revenue come from? Revenue comes from the fundamental simple things of getting people here and paying taxes," said Bevin.

Like many incumbents, Bevin is leaning hard on his record by touting the economic development under his administration, including the more than $22 billion in corporate investment.

"I'm the only one you'll hear from today, in the course of the next five weeks, that's ever actually created a job in the private sector," said Bevin.

Once a political outsider, Governor Bevin is making the case that he's the only candidate who can level with CEO's and convince them to bring new companies to the Commonwealth.

But Beshear says moving forward, there's more work to be done to attract tourists.

He recently unveiled a plan that would showcase the state's ties to bourbon and the equine industry. Beshear says he would make workforce development a priority in the hospitality industry.

He also adds the state would benefit from the legalization of casinos.

In response, Bevin's campaign manager says the governor has been relentless in promoting Kentucky.