Jan. 30, 2013 —
In our view, the remaining 26 days of the 2013 session of the General Assembly can be a winner for the citizens of Kentucky if the 138 lawmakers follow this ambitious game plan:
• Put the greater good of 4.3 million Kentuckians above political self interest by modernizing our ancient state revenue code to tax things other than property. The governor’s tax reform commission has offered plenty of suggestions.
• Find the political courage to develop a secure revenue source to rescue the state’s endangered public retirement systems. Without it, no family’s future will be safe in public employment.
• Carefully and fairly reapportion legislative districts without regard to the political advantage of either major party. Last year’s mean-spirited gerrymandering in each chamber rightfully was thrown out by the courts. “One person, one vote” must be the true objective.
• Bring Kentucky’s “ghost government” of special districts into the light of day by enacting House Bill 1 to start untangling the 1,000 existing laws that allow such unelected elements of local government to collect $1.5 billion annually in taxes and fees with little or no oversight.
• Respond to the will of the people, as shown by numerous statewide polls, by putting expanded gambling on the ballot in 2014 in simple “yes” or “no” language. Each county’s voters must be allowed to decide later if they want casinos in their areas.
• Change the 1936 law that allows kids to drop out of school at age 16. Surely the world has changed in the last 77 years to the extent that encouraging high school graduation is important enough to be written into public policy.
• Prove that we Kentuckians love and intend to protect our children by strengthening the laws that cover all kids, especially those under state control in foster homes. And tear away the shroud of secrecy that conceals child abuse in families, as well as negligent oversight by some staff members in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
• Give tax credits to those investors willing to sink their own money into local businesses where the most jobs are created each year. These so-called “angel investors” deserve more than a pat on the back. Many more jobs are needed to bring us the rest of the way out of the economic doldrums.
• Start sorting out the state’s maze of laws and regulations affecting alcoholic beverages, as recommended by a task force.
• Keep in mind that legislators are elected to represent all Kentuckians, not just those who contribute to their campaigns.