Alabama Retirement Fund CEO Pleads with Governor for Casino Legislation Restart

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The loftiest authority presiding over Alabama’s state retirement fund has risen in ardent appeal to Governor Kay Ivey (R) as he requests a unique legislative conclave, intended to reconvene the discussions on the merits and pitfalls of legalizing casino gambling. These important conversations came to a sudden standstill in Alabama’s bustling capital, Montgomery, earlier in the year.

David Bronner, the esteemed Chief Executive Officer at the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA), the noteworthy pension fund organization responsible for ensuring the financial futures of retired state employees, has bestowed upon the opportunity to permit commercial casinos and broader gambling practices in Alabama. He argues that this move could raise a substantial collection of tax revenue that might then be utilized to endow state retirees with an overdue cost-of-living adjustment. His appeal comes after months of stalled gaming discussions that previously held the attention of Montgomery’s political elite.

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RSA, which arguably is one of the world’s leading civilian-funded pension schemes, might ring a bell with some due to its celebrated involvement with the creation of the famed Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. This network of 11 spread-out golf courses scattered throughout Alabama rose to prominence with Bronner’s pivotal role in its establishment and continuous development.

Bronner, seeking to unearth novel sources of funding, is conjecturing that state lawmakers who have displayed supportable vows in the last year towards instituting a lottery, endorsing commercial casinos, and sanctioning sports betting have indeed tread on the correct path.

Unfortunately, the gaming proposal, conceived earlier within a special legislative ensemble, was blocked from proceeding further by the state Senate as it lacked a single approving vote to be accepted. This development occurred despite the gaming bill passing the House with comfortable ease, exceeding the requisite three-fifths majority endorsement.

In Bronner’s perspective as shared in the RSA’s monthly publication, The Advisor, he points out that native Alabamans benefiting from the state pension protocol have been devoid of any cost-of-living adjustments for the past 18 years. He argues that the influx of state tax, collected from lottery and casino gambling, could provide significant aid in enhancing their retirement payments.

Governor Ivey has previously voiced her encouragement in favor of allowing slot machines, table games, sports betting, and a state lottery in Alabama. However, after the conclusion of this month’s gridlocked Senate session, she expressed skepticism about allocating taxpayer dollars towards yet another gaming assembly, in the event of lawmakers’ inability to settle on a final agreement amongst themselves.

Bronner carries concerns over the recent tax reductions authorized by the Legislature, affecting groceries and overtime wages, along with various approved tax credits including an impactful $100 million allotted for school vouchers. He believes that these measures result in dwindling funds for the state’s pension system.

As he concluded his views on the matter, Bronner made a case against the proposition of increasing Alabama’s property taxes – the lowest in the country – to compensate the revenue gap created by the blocked gaming bill. He urged the RSA beneficiaries to make inquiries among the state lawmakers who disapproved of the gaming bill about how they aim to resolve the state’s financial conundrums in light of the broad tax reductions and reduced influx of federal funds.

The scenario of harboring casinos and other forms of legalized gambling in Alabama remains at standstill as neither a state lottery, a commercial casino, or a platform for sports betting yet exist within its borders. Since 1999 when a public voting round rejected a state-run lottery, Alabama persists in its gambling-free status, with exceptions being consigned to charity gambling events, parimutuel betting, and Class II Indian gaming. The sole federally acknowledged tribe in the state, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, oversees three tribal casinos where electronic bingo-based games that mimic traditional casino slot machines are in operation.