What $41 billion debt?

The legislative session in Frankfort is more than halfway finished, and you would not know we are racking up billions in debt per year by the bills dominating the session thus far. In fact, with all the talk of gambling and medicine mandates, the most important issue of the day—the budget—has missed the spotlight. It is interesting to note that while bills with good intentions expand government on one hand, the budget cuts education spending with the other.

“Every dog has his day,” it is said. Gov. Beshear’s budget will soon be on stage front-and-center. The spectacle will start with education once again becoming the sacrificial lamb. Funding for higher learning will take a $9 million blow. Then the proposed “balanced” budget takes the form of a contortionist, as the proposal looks for over $60 million in new-found revenue from delinquent taxpayers via an amnesty program. Another twist would take over $100 million from the state’s “rainy day” fund. The grand finale features an 8.4% cut across several areas of state government, while other hand-picked areas of spending continue to expand.

Time after time, my current representative, Martha Jane King, has supported Gov. Beshear’s budget tricks and gimmicks. King voted to add over $2.5 billion in debt since 2009—so much for balanced budgets! With Beshear’s approval, King also voted to create 5 new unfunded programs which cost millions annually. How much debt will this “balanced” budget leave?

The budget should be the issue of the day—not horse-track monopolies. However I fear any real debate on the budget will be foiled as the session runs out of time. Some of the worst legislation is passed in a frenzy near a deadline, and Kentucky can’t afford that.

A real fiscal representative would stand up and propose cuts in other areas instead of allowing more teachers to be fired. For example: why is our state government owning, and running, golf courses and resorts? How about we cut there first? Then we can move to the legislators’ pension. Why are we paying elected officials a retirement benefit for part-time jobs? These are mere first steps in much needed government reform. Cuts are needed but in the right place!

If elected, I have pledged not to participate in the legislators’ retirement plan. I have also pledged to never vote to cut education spending in order to expand other areas of government. The leadership in Frankfort has put Kentucky in a $41 billion hole. It’s time to send them home—otherwise they may never stop digging.

Chris Hightower
Republican Candidate for State Representative 16th District