Statement on Governor Beshear’s State of the Commonwealth Address

Jeffersontown, KY-The Governor’s forward looking message gives hope to Kentucky’s kids.  The broad-based agenda around revenue and adequacy is an imperative, not an option. It is an imperative it we want to protect Kentucky’s  kids from abuse and neglect. It is an imperative if we want Kentucky’s kids to emerge as world-class learners. It is an imperative if we want Kentucky’s families not to feel the high price of being poor.

We applaud the Governor’s call for an immediate fix to the antiquated state budget system as a means of mending the tattered safety net for kids and families in this state.  We as a Commonwealth must stop being pennywise and pound foolish. Instead, we have to see focused and effective supports as an investment in Kentucky’s future. The Governor applauded the work of the Blue Ribbon Tax Commission and talked about working on some of those recommendations this year. One of those recommendations is a state Earned Income Tax Credit and we know this is a proven method to keep working families out of poverty.

There is one critical issue mentioned briefly in the speech that demands an immediate call to action – the recently announced cuts from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.  The families dramatically affected by those slashes cannot wait for a reformed budget process. They need action now.  That means that the Governor either must look harder into discretionary options; the General Assembly must re-open the budget; or the Governor must, in fact, call a special session to address this tsunami washing over Kentucky families. Tough times are the most important times to protect kids.

I saw a different Steve Beshear tonight than of late and I like this new guy a lot.  I like the Governor asking that hard question about our collective courage around investing in our children’s today and tomorrow.  He talked about structural weaknesses. He talked about real revenue needs. And he addressed the needs of children and families in a systemic and comprehensive fashion.  Many of the issues he raised mirror the priorities of those identified by children’s advocates on the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children – early childhood, human trafficking, smoke-free laws, and protecting kids from death due to abuse.

The more vibrant,focused and aspirational voice of the Governor resonates hope. Kentucky’s kids now wait to see if the potential of this speech becomes actionable – and if all the talk around bipartisanship progress is rhetoric or a reality.