Today we have another example of the gutless self-serving lack of leadership currently offered by Dr. Ernie Fletcher.
From the Courier Journal:
“Gov. Ernie Fletcher said yesterday that he will not press the General Assembly for higher cigarette taxes in the 2006 session, although he floated the idea two months ago.”
Now in all fairness, Ernie is not the only politician in Frankfort that demonstrates this inability to do the right thing.
"I don't think that they are ready to address this. I've spoken to a few of the members in confidentiality and they have some concerns about trying to push that at this time, especially during an election year, (emphasis added)" Fletcher said in an interview with The Courier-Journal.
"We don't need additional taxes. I think we need to learn to live within our budget," Fletcher said
Ok, smoking is good, we don’t need any new tax revenue, and the governor has a plan for dealing with Kentucky’s problems. He is going to tackle medical malpractice.
“Fletcher said he will push for controls on jury awards in medical malpractice cases.”Medical liability abuse reform will reduce the percentage increase costs in health care. That's important for Kentucky," he said.”
I’m glad the good Doctor is taking care of himself and a lot of his campaign donors, but what about some of the real problems?
“Kentucky needs to invest a significant portion of the surplus to balance Medicaid's budget and erase the current deficit. If the deficit continues, painful cuts in services and supports are coming. Investing in Medicaid not only improves the health of our citizens, but improves the economy of the commonwealth as well.”
“Few people walking along a street in Kentucky today will feel any pain because the state worker retirement system is seriously underfunded.
But that will change in a few years when thousands of state workers retire and the system's assets won't cover the monthly checks and health insurance they have earned.
If nothing is done now, the only choices left when that day comes will be to raise taxes or make huge cuts in an already-strained state budget.”
“University of Kentucky President Lee Todd believes he has a solution to many of the economic problems that have plagued the state: Turn the commonwealth's flagship institution into a Top 20 research university by 2020.
Today, he will unveil a plan that will ask for state funding increases of between $15 million and $23 million a year for UK through 2020, totaling $260 million over the next 15 years. The exact amounts will vary according to state allocations and tuition increases.”
Of course we can always find money for the really important projects.
“Somewhere within the state's multi-billion-dollar annual spending plan -- which lawmakers must hammer out this winter -- will be $33.4 million for an arena at the Kentucky Horse Park, Gov. Ernie Fletcher promised yesterday.
The arena was among the key selling points Kentucky gave to land the 2010 World Equestrian Games.
Fletcher will ask the General Assembly on Jan. 16 to approve those funds in addition to as much as $75 million for a larger arena in Louisville that's expected to cost $300 million.”
The answer here is simple and difficult the Commonwealth needs its elected leaders to step up and do the right thing – Comprehensive Tax Reform.
The Commonwealth of Kentucky will continue run in the back of the pack until the Governor demonstrates some leadership and the members of the General Assembly care more about doing the right thing than they do about getting reelected.