KY Senate Refuses Pension Funding Measure

The House bill would have shifted revenue from the horse industry to pension funds.

The Kentucky Senate Feb. 28 voted not to concur with changes the House of Representatives made to its pension bill, and also refused to accept an accompanying funding measure that would have shifted most revenue from historical race wagering to pay for retirement programs.

The pension bill was sent back to the House. The funding bill never made it to the floor.

Sen. Damon Thayer, the Republican Majority Floor Leader, said the funding measure didn't receive the required 60 votes in the House and therefore is unconstitutional. Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo contended Feb. 27 the 60-vote threshold, or three-fifths majority, only pertains to final passage of the bill.

Republican Rep. David Osborne said before the House voted that he opposes a proposed cap on historical race wagering revenue that would go to the horse industry. Under the Stumbo bill, when a threshold of $300 million a year in wagering is reached, racing's share of revenue would shift to the pension fund.

In comments after the Feb. 28 Senate session, Thayer agreed with Osborne on historical race wagering, also called Instant Racing.

"It's a horrible idea to attempt to pay for an underfunded pension liability on the backs of the Kentucky horse industry," Thayer said. "Instant Racing is still out there as a potential tool to increase purses and breed development revenue.

"To cap the revenue is not only an insult to this signature industry but an inappropriate manner to pay off pension liability."

Meanwhile, there has been no action on a Senate bill dealing with historical race wagering because the issue is in the hands of the state Supreme Court. Two Kentucky tracks have Instant Racing under Kentucky Horse Racing Commission regulations that have been challenged in court.