This op-ed was originally posted in the Courier Journal on January 17, 2020.
By Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates
In 1978, “The Farmer’s Almanac” first published a list of “folk wisdom” from Dick Goddard about signs of an approaching bad winter. More than four decades later, it is still one of the most popular features of that publication. You’ve seen that list or a similar one — thicker than normal corn husks; woodpeckers sharing a tree; the early migration of the monarch butterfly; thick and numerous Autumn fogs; an unusual abundance of acorns. The list goes on and on.
While I find those lists fascinating, I never remember to check back in the spring to see whether the claims were reality or simply promises. After all, “the proof is in the pudding.”
And so it is when it comes to kids and Frankfort. During any campaign and during any political season, every elected official claims to be a champion for children and families. Let’s be honest — that is an inviting platform on which to run. The challenge for and obligation of voters is to check back on those claims and to ascertain if the “proof is in the pudding.”
During the last several years, there is no question that the General Assembly has demonstrated its commitment to youth in very real ways. Legislation to build a thoughtful foundation around strengthening school safety, seminal reform to the child welfare system, and groundbreaking protections against youth tobacco use including e-cigarettes are illustrative of Frankfort actions that carry real impact.
As the 2020 session begins, the General Assembly and Governor Andy Beshear can provide more “proof in the pudding” when it comes to children through their action on the biennial state budget.
I get it — Kentucky faces a budgetary landscape short on revenue and long on challenges. That means that it is even more vital that the budget must become an incubator for new ideas and a lever for innovation. Neither the governor nor the General Assembly can solve Kentucky’s core issues with one budget. But, that one budget can be a catalyst to better days for Kentucky’s boys and girls.