To put it simply, public education and higher education are under attack in this state. Our governor and lawmakers claim that our school systems’ funding must be slashed because there just isn’t enough money. Then they turn around and enact charter schools and propose a scholarship tax credit (essentially vouchers) for private schools. If they can’t fund our existing public school systems, then how do they expect to financially support charter schools and vouchers? In fact, the current proposed cuts for our K-12 schools are so severe that they will directly impact student instruction. If we don’t want our schools to lose classes and services such as libraries, fine arts, after-school activities, smaller class sizes, and more, then we must act now to stop these attacks. The same goes for universities. For instance, our state leadership is pushing higher education to cut programs that don’t produce graduates for high-paying and high-demand jobs, such as those in technical fields. However, many businesses indicate that their most creative employees come from a liberal arts background. It’s a fact that not every young person is suited for a job in science, math, or other technical areas. I believe our children and their parents can make their own decisions about what degrees they want to pursue. Without these choices, families may choose to seek higher education in other states. Kentuckians tend to be independent thinkers who like to make their own choices about their futures. Let’s make sure they have viable options right here at home.
If legislators in Frankfort aren’t caring or creative enough to come up with solutions besides massive budget cuts, we most definitely need new representation. Many of these long-term politicians have repeatedly voted for underfunded budgets. They knew that Kentucky was taking in less money than it gave away in corporate tax cuts or benefits for the rich, yet they continued to short-change services and required obligations, such as the pension systems for public employees and teachers. When owners of $150,000 houseboats pay a fraction of the tax of that on $25,000 fishing boats, there’s a serious problem. The people of Lexington pay their bills, follow a household budget, and fully understand that when money is tight, they have to find more money. Voters don’t need to be corporate CEOs to understand the math.
Whether we agree or disagree about any given topic, Kentuckians expect the legislative process to be open to the public and their elected officials to behave with respect toward constituents. The past year, however, has generated a lot of concern as we’ve witnessed important legislation developed behind closed doors and/or rushed through with little input from the public, or even from other lawmakers. Add to that derogatory comments about Kentucky constituents or the state’s press outlets and the influence of special interest groups, and we’re left to wonder about the leadership in Frankfort. Trust in government continues to erode, and District 12 residents in the southern part of Lexington deserve, and expect, better.