FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear sent a letter to state House members Thursday that asks them to revisit his proposal to allow video lottery terminals at Kentucky racetracks.
Beshear's proposed two-year state budget, which lawmakers immediately dismissed, assumed $780 million in gaming revenues over the next two years.
Beshear also warned against assuming that there will be a second round of federal stimulus dollars to balance the budget — a proposal now being debated in the House.
"Unlike a budget proposal based on a speculative assumption that Kentucky will receive additional stimulus funds (we have absolutely no control over what Congress may or may not do), my proposal relies on revenue that already exists and over which we can exercise total control if the legislature is willing to act."
But House and Senate leaders defended the option of closing some of the reportedly $400 million gap in the first year of the budget by banking on a federal cash infusion into the state's Medicaid program come Jan. 1.
The move would free up about $220 million in General Fund dollars to be used in other areas. Many health care advocates have criticized the move, saying it could jeopardize the fiscal health of the federal-state health care program for the poor and disabled.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, has said that if more federal money does not materialize, lawmakers would have time to address the issue in January 2011.
"It's highly, highly likely," Stumbo said of the second round of federal money for Medicaid.
Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, said Thursday that he, too, believes it's highly likely that the state will receive additional federal money for the Medicaid program.
In his letter Thursday to House members, a copy of which the Herald-Leader obtained, Beshear said the House could pass his proposed budget "and together we can ask the Senate to pass" a bill sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Ed Worley, D-Richmond, that would allow slots at tracks.
Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford, who is House budget chairman, said it's too late in the 60-day session to even consider moving gambling forward.