Next Tuesday, we determine the future of our State. Voting is a right that few countries can exercise as freely as we do in the U. S.
The differences in candidates couldn’t be greater:
- Matt Bevin: Pro-Life
- Jack Conway: Pro-Abortion (has accepted money from Planned Parenthood)
- Matt Bevin: A self-made man who served as an Army Officer.
- Conway: Child of privilege
- Matt Bevin: Stands up for our Constitution
- Conway: Refused to defend a Constitutional vote required by his oath of office. (The Governor ended up spending money we don’t have in Conway’s absence)
- Matt Bevin is a successful businessman.
- Jack Conway became Kentucky’s chief law enforcement officer touting anti-drug skills. Since his taking office, everyone in KY has been touched by the heroin epidemic. (The State Police in Southern KY have had to be re-trained to handle drug intoxication.)
I’ve known Matt Bevin since before he decided to run for United States Senator. He’s a good man who has invested greatly of himself to get our state turned around for the future of our children. Conway, a man of utter incompetence panders to special interests and extreme ideologies.
Please vote on Tuesday, November 3rd and implore friends and family to vote. This election will impact all of our lives. Matt Bevin is the only choice.
The Cincinnati Enquirer is running a story this weekend by the same title, however, it is misleading and shows how disconnected they continue to be with Northern Kentucky.
Their reasons: “Northern Kentucky needs to improve turnout”, “who will gain momentum for the 2016 Senate race”, “the White House effect”, and “tepid Republican support”.
I ask, what do any of those have to do with how voters should weigh their choices this November? The answer is a very distinct, “absolutely nothing.”
Instead, please allow me to offer four REAL reasons:
- Pension Crisis
As of January 1, 2015, the Kentucky teacher retirement system faced more than $14 Billion in unfunded liabilities. This is in addition to the $17 Billion in unfunded pensions in the Kentucky Retirement System. No solution came out of the legislative session, and the can was kicked down the road yet again. This massively looming debt grows daily, is not being addressed and is not sustainable. Pensions continue to be offered to state employees as a benefit, so the burden grows through attrition.
All of this burden falls upon the Kentucky taxpayer. Our police, fire, teachers, and civil servants all stand to lose their retirement that they’ve worked for if something is not done.
- Tax Deficit
The current Kentucky tax code is more than 60,000 pages. The state, in 2014, gave out $90M more than it took in, and is on pace to fall more than $35M short in 2015. This, is in addition to the pension deficit. The tax code in current form does not provide competitive opportunity for businesses to locate within the commonwealth. Major players such as Toyota, Humana, and Omnicare have moved out of state for greener pastures. All sides agree that comprehensive tax reform is needed, but the seated governor and legislature have ignored the issue, and again, passed the buck.
- Health Care Reform
The creation of a state exchange, KYNECT, was initiated as part of the Affordable Care Act. The exchange is heralded as one of the better state exchanges in design, and was created with $253.6M in grants, of which only $60M have been accounted for. The state spent more than $11M in 2014 just promoting the exchange, who has 622 employees. The cost to operate KYNECT is stated at $39M per year. States are not required to operate their own exchange, and all services provided by the exchange can be received through the federal ACA online exchange.
Medicaid expansion in the state has increased the annual state cost of funding. The governor’s projections in 2013 were for 147,000 people to join the expanded program, at a cost of $33M. More than 310,000 people joined, just the first year pushing the cost projections to $119M per year. The healthcare marked is turning to increased costs upon the insured, because of the reduced reimbursement rates of Medicaid, driving the expense of healthcare up, to compensate. The cycle is not sustainable, and the state currently has no answers to fund the expansion.
- Labor Law
Right to work legislation is at Kentucky’s doorstep. The concept with Right-To-Work is that by law, no one can be forced to enter into an organized labor contract / agreement. This does not ban unions, but does make participation within them elective. This issue is very divisive, as the organized labor contingent believes it jeopardizes their funding and ability to operate, and those opposed to forced participation believe the increased dollars going to worker pockets instead of union dues are a job creation incentive. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, and Tennessee all have passed right to work legislation, and are all in direct competition for business growth and expansion with Kentucky.
All four of these topics have major implications on the future ability of our state government to function. In Northern Kentucky we have a looming need for an I-75 bridge solution, and our sprawling growth has overburdened many state highways and systems.
Which candidate offers the best skill set, and approach to resolving these major issues facing our state?
Here are your choices:
Do your homework Kentucky, and VOTE!
November 3, 2015.
Attorney General Jack Conway is right: the state Board of Education violated Kentucky’s open-meetings law when an ad hoc committee it hastily created in April conducted business in unannounced, closed-session conditions while hiring a search firm to aid in finding a replacement for outgoing commissioner Terry Holliday.
State board chairman Roger Marcum indicated in a May 4 text to Bluegrass Institute staff education analyst Richard Innes that the subcommittee spent “many hours” reviewing proposals offered by search firms after Holliday’s surprise announcement – but the public was never informed.
Even with valid reasons, government agencies cannot legally go into closed session without first publicly citing the specific authorization for conducting the stated business outside public purview, followed by a motion and vote – again, in public – to go into closed session.
This subcommittee did neither, although it clearly was active because it narrowed the number of search firms to only one. The full state education board then voted to hire that firm – Asher/Greenwood & Associates, a Florida company that also recruited Holliday to Kentucky.
Since transparency is vital to holding government agencies accountable, I sent an official complaint on behalf of the Bluegrass Institute to the board in the form of a simple two-part suggestion: the board should acknowledge its error and commit to conducting a training session for its members with an Open Meetings expert from Conway’s office during a regularly scheduled, webcasted meeting.
Board attorney Kevin Brown sent me a letter flatly refusing to acquiesce to my uncontroversial plea, which led to the appeal.
Following release of Conway’s decision, the Kentucky School Boards Association (KSBA) breathlessly defended the state education establishment, hyperventilating in the headline of its statement: “KDE doesn’t believe Attorney General’s opinion impacts ongoing commissioner search process.”
However, past open-meetings violations have resulted in courts voiding contracts, including those of contractors hired to find new school leaders. It would be better for the board to comply with the ruling, perform my education remedy and put this incident in its rear-view mirror.
The KSBA irrelevantly remarked in its statement that my appeal of the department’s refusal to acknowledge its wrongdoing comes from “a frequent critic of the state Department of Education and public education in Kentucky in general,” as if a violation of open-meetings laws somehow doesn’t matter so much when called out by a “critic” of a system that routinely ranks behind many other states in its academic performance.
If the institute’s goal is to degrade the department in some way, would we make such a benign request for corrective action – the most-discomfiting part of which would be simply to acknowledge that open-meetings laws were violated?
A primary reason we included that request was to demonstrate respect for a law without which there would be frequent closed-door meetings offering increased temptation to act in ways not conducive to serving the taxpayers who pay the freight for our public-education system.
The state board’s argument throughout this challenge has been that its temporary ad hoc committee was formed for a single task and thus could ignore the open-meetings law.
That’s a weak, and ultimately losing, argument from an agency that will spend the most – $8 billion – of any state-government department in the current General Fund budget.
Perhaps state board members or their political pals in Frankfort and at the alphabet-soup agencies and organizations don’t deem the state’s education system worthy of being subject to such a high level of scrutiny – especially since it was just a “single task.”
But hiring the next leader of Kentucky’s entire public-education system happens to be one of the board’s most important tasks.
Such a task may be singular in nature but huge in consequences.
In fact, if there’s any decision that should be made with full transparency and accountability throughout the entire process, it’s this one.