When it comes to March Madness, I think I am an expert.  I look at every rating system known to mankind.  I compare offensive and defensive efficiencies of each team.  I analyze the relative strength of every conference.  And the result?  Well, all four granddaughters beat me (and the two youngest are only three years old!) but I did edge out my four year old grandson in our family bracketology contest!  When it comes to the Derby, I actually do better. Maybe that’s because I actually don’t know anything!  I realize there are lots of tips out there.  What is a horse’s speed rating or what post position did he draw?  Do you want a speed horse or a stalker or a closer?  Did the horse have any starts as a two-year old and how did he close his last two stretch runs?  My biggest Derby win was Giacomo with the odds of 50:1 in 2005.  My rationale?  My wife and I love a restaurant by that name in Boston!

So when it comes to the Derby, there are no sure bets.  There are likely bets, long-shot bets, and even lucky bets.  But none that are lockdown certainties.  All too often, policies that impact kids and families are not seen as sure bets, even when all the signs show they are much better than a long shot.

Unlike my NCAA basketball tournament system and unlike all those Derby tipster sheets, Kentucky finds itself in a unique position as we begin to look ahead to 2014.  There are, in fact, several sure-fire bets that can make a profound difference in the lives of children and families.  These sure-fire bets are animated by common-sense, backed by a track record of results, and invite bipartisanship support.

Kentucky’s kids rank 35th in the nation in overall well-being, according to KIDS COUNT, and we know there are policy changes that will help create that stronger future.  Given the climate and fiscal challenges in Frankfort, our focus on policies should be around the question of, “What would a sure bet for kids look like in Frankfort in 2014?”  In other words, what are the issues around which we can find common ground?  What are the issues that the evidence shows are wise investments for today and even better ones for tomorrow? What are the issues on which House and Senate leadership, as well as Governor Beshear, can all agree will move Kentucky kids forward?

My superfecta of sure bets for Kentucky’s kids and families in 2014 are:

  1. Restore the recently implemented cuts to the Kinship Care Program, which helps relatives step up to provide for kin, and the Child Care Assistance Program, which helps families pay for quality child care so the parents can keep working;
  2. Implement common sense changes to our state’s response to youth behavior. Such changes will save court and incarceration costs and ultimately improve public safety;
  3. Help working families make ends meet by enacting a state Earned Income Tax Credit; and
  4. Protect children and parents from exposure to secondhand smoke in indoor public places and workplaces.

This is for certain.  On that first Saturday in May, there will be a lot more losing tickets than winning ones.  There just aren’t sure bets when it comes to the ponies.  But there are sure-fire bets for Kentucky kids. These bets are policies that help them today and create a better future for all Kentuckians.  Let’s make sure that those tickets get cashed come the 2014 General Assembly.