Ky. Voices: Expand gambling to enable Ky. to prosper

Jonathan Blue, left, Ed Glasscock, center, and Terry McBrayer
Jonathan Blue, left, Ed Glasscock, center, and Terry McBrayer

Where will Kentucky be in 20 years?

It is a question those of us in business, those of us with children and those of us who have made Kentucky our home often ask

Will our state be competitive? Will our businesses thrive? Will our kids be able to find good jobs and start families here?

These are the questions all Kentuckians and our elected representatives should be considering. And the answers are not a great mystery.

For Kentucky to truly thrive, we must reform and improve the education system so that our state is attractive to job creators and our graduates are competitive in the job market. We must have an infrastructure that is conducive to job creation and a health-care system that serves as a model to other states.

We can do all of those things.

But building something, be it a home or a business, requires resources and building a state to compete in the modern economy will also require resources.

We cannot expect our education system will magically transform overnight, or that Kentucky's business climate will somehow become more attractive to outside investment. The simple reality requires that in order for things to improve in our state, the citizens of Kentucky are going to have to make a significant financial investment.

Unfortunately, the headlines out of Frankfort consistently tell stories of budget deficits, pension shortfalls and basic social services like education and health care being dramatically underfunded.

How can we expect to build our state into an economic and education powerhouse if we have no resources to invest?

Something must change.

The Kentucky legislature has debated the issue of expanded gaming for more than two decades. In the meantime, our surrounding states have enjoyed the influx of billions of Kentucky dollars. They have used our money to build their roads, bridges, hospitals, schools and to create new jobs.

Those states have used the proceeds from expanded gaming (a great deal of which came from Kentucky) to build for their futures. As our scarce resources have crossed the border and never come back, Kentucky has fallen further behind.

This must stop now.

The time has come for Kentucky to pass a common-sense expanded gaming bill that will finally level the playing field. We need to keep hundreds of millions of dollars in the state to provide an important source of revenue for valuable projects without the need for costly tax increases. We must protect our signature horse industry, create jobs and help build a strong Kentucky for decades to come.

Kentucky Wins is a grassroots coalition of business leaders and civic-minded people from all over Kentucky who have joined forces to help pass expanded gaming and use the proceeds to invest in long-term growth in our state. We recognize expanded gaming is already here in our state and most of our largest communities, but is simply located on the other side of our border. We firmly believe that Kentucky has been left behind for too long and we are concerned our competitor states continue to take advantage of our unwillingness to act.

Make no mistake; the biggest opponents of expanded gaming in Kentucky are the residents and elected officials in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and West Virginia. They no doubt dread the prospect of hundreds of millions of Kentucky dollars staying at home and not flowing into their respective states.

It is long past time we stood up for ourselves, had the courage to act and the good sense to invest in building a better Kentucky.

This is about our future. It is about how our state grows stronger. We are committed to working with our elected leaders to pass legislation that can get our state moving again and provide the revenue needed for meaningful investment in Kentucky.

Our coalition is a true grassroots effort, made up of people who want nothing more than to build a stronger Kentucky. We hope you join us. For more information and to join our coalition visit www.kywins.com.