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Alabama Pension Fund CEO Urges Governor To Push Legal Gaming Forward

David G. Bronner, CEO of the Retirement Systems of Alabama is calling for a special legislative session to legalize gaming in Alabama.

Flowers Bloom In Front Of Alabama Capitol In Montgomery
Photo by AP Photo/Dave Martin
J.R. Duren Avatar
2 mins read

Amid escalating inflation and the second-lowest tax rates in the country, David G. Bronner, CEO of the Retirement Systems of Alabama, is calling for Gov. Kay Ivey to convene a special legislative session intended to legalize gaming in Alabama.

Why?

Revenue.

Key takeaways

  • Alabama came within one vote of legalizing gaming expansion earlier this year.
  • The state’s pension fund CEO said gaming could provide a much-needed revenue boost for state programs.
  • If she wants, Ivey can call a special legislative session intended to approve gaming expansion.

State programs are suffering from lack of funding

Bronner’s plea came via the June 2024 edition of The Advisor, a newsletter sent to state employees. In the newsletter, he penned an article, “Say It Ain’t So”, arguing that legalizing gaming is necessary to add much-needed money to the state’s various systems.

Bronner pointed out several key areas in which Alabamians are suffering from a lack of funding:

  • Retirees on Retirement Systems of Alabama (it funds pensions for state employees) haven’t received a cost of living adjustment in 18 years.
  • Around 200,000 Alabamians don’t have access to affordable health care coverage.
  • Rural hospitals are closing.
  • State agencies have been “grossly underfunded for decades”.

Typically, a state would turn to tax increases to generate revenue for key programs. However, Bronner noted that Alabama has the second-lowest per capita tax burden in the country.

“Anti-gaming folks might suggest increasing Alabama’s property taxes, which are the lowest in America, to replace this revenue, but this has been impossible to accomplish in the past,” Bronner wrote.

Legislators came oh-so-close to putting gaming on ballot

Earlier this year, the Alabama House voted to approve a bill that would amend the state’s constitution to allow a state lottery, seven commercial casinos, and full-fledged casino gaming for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (the tribe runs three bingo halls in the state).

The bill sailed through the House by a decisive 72-29 vote. However, it came up one vote short in the Senate and lost its chance to go to voters in November.

Bronner lamented the bill’s failure, saying it could’ve remedied revenue shortfalls and Alabama’s patchwork of local gaming laws and a state ban on most gaming, he wrote:

“The House’s gaming legislation would have fixed this and, more importantly, would have brought in a new stream of revenue for the state.”

CEO of Retirement Systems of Alabama calls out legislators

Bronner closed his pointed article by turning the attention to three people and groups. He asked Ivey to enact a special session to approve gaming. He thanked lawmakers who supported the gaming expansion bill.

To close, he asked those who voted against gaming expansion to offer solutions for the state’s revenue problems. “Alabama needs to move forward, not form a firing squad within a circle,” he wrote.

J.R. Duren Avatar
Written by

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

View all posts by J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

Amid escalating inflation and the second-lowest tax rates in the country, David G. Bronner, the CEO of the Retirement Systems of Alabama is calling for Gov. Kay Ivey to convene a special legislative session intended to legalize gaming in Alabama.

Why?

Revenue.

Key takeaways

  • Alabama came within one vote of legalizing gaming expansion earlier this year.
  • The state’s pension fund CEO said gaming could provide a much-needed revenue boost for state programs.
  • If she wants, Gov. Kate Ivey can call a special legislative session intended to approve gaming expansion.

State programs are suffering from lack of funding that gaming can resolve

Bronner’s plea came via the June 2024 edition of The Advisor, a newsletter that’s sent out to state employees. In the newsletter, he penned an article titled, “Say It Ain’t So”, in which he argued that legalizing gaming is a necessary move to add much-needed money to the state’s various systems.

Bronner pointed out several key areas in which Alabamians are suffering from a lack of funding:

  • Retirees on Retirement Systems of Alabama (it funds pensions for state employees) haven’t received a cost of living adjustment in 18 years.
  • Around 200,000 Alabamians don’t have access to affordable health care coverage.
  • Rural hospitals are closing.
  • State agencies have been “grossly underfunded for decades”.

Typically, a state would turn to tax increases to generate revenue for key programs. However, Bronner noted that Alabama has the second-lowest per capita tax burden in the country.

“Anti-gaming folks might suggest increasing Alabama’s property taxes, which are the lowest in America, to replace this revenue, but this has been impossible to accomplish in the past,” Bronner wrote.

Legislators came oh-so-close to putting gaming on the November ballot

Earlier this year, the Alabama House voted to approve a bill that would amend the state’s constitution to allow a state lottery, seven commercial casinos, and full-fledged casino gaming for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (the tribe runs three bingo halls in the state).

The bill sailed through the House by a decisive 72-29 vote. However, it came up one vote short in the Senate and lost its chance to go to voters in November.

Bronner lamented the bill’s failure, saying it could’ve remedy not just revenue shortfalls, but Alabama’s patchwork of local gaming laws and state ban on most gaming.

“The House’s gaming legislation would have fixed this and,
more importantly, would have brought in a new stream of revenue for the state,” he wrote.

Bronner calls out legislators who voted against gaming bill

Bronner closed his pointed article by turning the attention to three people and groups. He asked Ivey to enact a special session to approve gaming. He thanked lawmakers who supported the gaming expansion bill.

To close, he asked those who voted against gaming expansion to offer solutions for the state’s revenue problems.

“Alabama needs to move forward, not form a firing squad within a circle,” he wrote.

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