If you have ever thought that state government needed a good house cleaning. Here are another couple of reasons.
At the same time the state is handing out $750,000 in tax credits for a company to make a product, that no one in their right mind thinks is good for anybody to use, Kentucky state government continues to squander our most valuable resource – our children.
From the Herald Leader:
“Kentucky, which spends more than $1.2 billion a year treating sick smokers, plans to use tax dollars to help a Russell Springs company get into the cigarette-making business.
Tantus Tobacco has received preliminary approval from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority for $750,000 in tax credits.”
Again from the Herald Leader:
“The well-being of Kentucky's kids ranks 42nd out of 50 states -- the lowest overall rating in the 16 years the national KIDS COUNT study has been conducted, and a drop from 37th place last year.
……"Historically, we'd been improving," (Executive Director of Kentucky Youth Advocates Terry) Brooks said. "If this trend continues, instead of 'Unbridled Spirit,' our license plates will need to say, 'Thank goodness for Mississippi.' It's a pretty dramatic downturn."
Traditionally, Mississippi has ranked low in national child health reports, including KIDS COUNT.
Kentucky also has hovered near the bottom: 37th in 2004, 38th in 2003, 37th in 2002, 36th in 2001, and 40th in 2000.”
Now I know there is not a direct cause and effect relationship between building a cigarette factory in Russell County and the way kids are treated across the state but let’s take a look at Russell County.
Some of the statistics for Russell County compiled by Kentucky Youth Advocates for Russell County:
36 percent of householders under the age of 25 lived below the poverty level
21 percent of mother reported smoking during pregnancy
31 percent of all children live in poverty
72 percent of 11th graders did not test at least proficient in mathematics
So who represents the children of Russell County in the Kentucky Legislature? In the Senate they have the dubious honor of being represented by Republican Vernie MaGaha and in the House they are represented by Jeff Hoover. Hoover is also the Republican Minority Floor Leader in the House.
In the last legislative session what were some of the things Vernie did to help the children in Russell County and the Commonwealth?
Vernie championed laws to limit an individual access to the court system:
“Propose amending the Constitution of Kentucky to add a new section permitting the General Assembly to limit noneconomic damages, limit punitive damages, provide for a statute of limitations on actions, and require alternative dispute resolution in cases involving health care providers licensed or certified by the Commonwealth”
“Create several new sections of KRS Chapter 411; define terms; exclude food establishments from civil liability for any claim arising out of weight gain, obesity, a health condition associated with weight gain or obesity”
A law to partially gut the Kentucky Education Reform Act;
“Amend KRS 158.6453 to remove writing portfolios as a part of the required state assessment program that is established by the Kentucky Board of Education;”
A law to limit the ability of local governments from enacting civil rights ordinances;
“Create a new section of KRS Chapter 65 to require any city, county, urban-county, consolidated local government, or charter county to submit for voter approval any ordinance related to the expansion of civil rights provisions beyond those already established in KRS Chapter 344; specify that ordinances related to the expansion of civil rights beyond those established in KRS Chapter 344 that were enacted after 1998, shall be void until submitted to and approved by voters”
Hoover, in my opinion a better legislator than MaGaha (he sponsored HB7 – “AN ACT relating to breast cancer research, education, awareness, screening, treatment, and funding through a replacement checkoff program, and making an appropriation therefor.”), spent most of his time carrying the water for the Fletcher administration on the Budget (HB267) and Taxes (HB272).
The problem in the legislature is not just Hoover and MaGaha, they are but an example. The problem extends from the leadership, or lack thereof, in both parties down to the news minted legislator.
They are too busy dealing with the process of government (Hoover) or too busy making sure Gays don’t get too many rights (McGaha) to deal with the problems that condemn the children and future of this state.
The petty private agendas of legislators relegate this state to be a perpetual also ran.