To the Editor:
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” — Lao Tzu
I have heard this quote many times in my life and always felt it was pretty accurate in how we can really make change in the world around us. It seems very appropriate to me now when I look at House Bill 42.
This bill presented by Representatives Rand and Keene seems like the perfect opportunity to allow the people of Kentucky to help guide their own fate. This bill would allow local communities to vote for legalizing gambling.
There is a company who is ready to build a casino (along with other resort services) here in Jenkins. Jenkins (and Letcher County) has been left behind economically over the past 20 years with coal no longer being king and the fact that most substantial coal deposits in the area are now gone.
So, what should the communities of Letcher County do? Dry up? Waste away like a ghost town in a many Western movies? The resilient, adaptive people of eastern Kentucky have done what they always have, worked to find other options for economic stability.
The City of Jenkins has an amazing opportunity that could bring a casino resort to our town. The resort would offer biking and walking trails, zip lines, gondola rides high in the sky, and most importantly it would breath financial breath into a community that desperately needs it. This endeavor would employ 800 people to start and more may be added as they grow.
Think about the implications to our communities; more local tax dollars, more citizens being able to provide for their families, and an increase in tourism which brings money into our community.
As I listen to the governor I keep hearing “Well, what are your ideas?” Well, I suggest you pass House Bill 42 to start. Allow local communities to decide their own fate and let’s take the economic decision making of our local municipalities out of the hands of people in Frankfort.
If you have never been to Jenkins, I propose you come visit. Come see the natural beauty of our area. It is the most beautiful place in the state of Kentucky in my opinion, and the perfect place to highlight our state to visitors from other states.
Let’s allow Jenkins the ability to be the amazing jewel of the mountains that visitors would enjoy visiting. Jenkins, Kentucky has the potential to become as big a tourist spot as Gatlinburg, Tennessee if we take the steps necessary to allow growth.
This bill also proposes that the revenue (which is estimated to be $350 million initially from licensing and $235 million yearly) goes straight to support the state pension system. This proposal allows local communities to help themselves instead of hoping for handouts from Frankfort.
I implore each of you to support this bill. Supporting this bill is supporting the economic growth of local communities and everyone who is or will be a member of the state pension plan.
This is a win/win scenario. No brainer is how I would describe it. We cannot sit on the moral high ground right now and say oh we are too good to allow gambling in our state. We have gambling at racetracks; we allow local communities to decide on the sale of alcohol, and we are losing millions of dollars in possible tax revenue to Ohio and Indiana right now by seeing citizens from Kentucky spending money gambling in other states.
Let’s be practical and deal with real world situations and the serious financial issues facing our state. Why would we not take advantage of every opportunity available to us?
We cannot continue to use spending cuts to work our way out of our financial problems as a state, but we can lessen spending, and in concert with more revenue we can find a solution that lessens the burden on our schools, public institutions, and taxpayers.
This does not add money to taxes or cause financial burden to people of our state. This is the most realistic way to move forward with increasing revenue without burdening our citizens with more taxes.
Give Jenkins the chance to take its fate into its own hands and vote to legalize gambling in our community or to not legalize gambling. We just want the opportunity to have it put forth for a vote, and allow the democracy in which we have been raised to work as it is supposed to work.
Support our State Employees, Support Kentucky, Support Letcher County, Support the City of Jenkins encourage all our legislators to Vote Yes on House Bill 42!
MICHAEL D. GENTON Superintendent Jenkins Independent Schools