Whitesburg KY
Partly sunny
Partly sunny

Blame these folks for the hurt ahead

The wretched budget that is emerging from one of the worst General Assembly sessions in modern memory has real consequences. Real people are going to get hurt.

Seven Counties Services program is closing its southeastern Jefferson county office, which serves 1,500 people. Similar cuts in mental health service are likely across the state.

The public defender system will have to turn away poor people who need legal help.

University of Kentucky students, and eventually their counterparts at other state campuses, will be taxed. That’s what a 9 percent increase in tuition is – a tax on students and their families, made necessary by lawmakers’ refusal to raise new state revenue.

As education advocates across the state, led by Commissioner Jon Draud, are warning, elementary and secondary schools will be hit so hard that they can’t really aspire to reach “proficiency” by the legal due-date of 2014. Kentucky School Boards Association spokesman Brad Hughes expects more “direct impact on classroom learning than at any time in recent history.” The Prichard Committee’s Bob Sexton says lawmakers have failed the state’s kids.

The Kentucky Racing Authority, which is supposed to ensure the integrity of the state’s signature industry, faces the loss of more than half its staff.

Money has been filched from the fees paid by professionals, including doctors, nurses and dentists, which means licensing and oversight agencies won’t have the money to do their job, which means the public could be endangered. And the outrage expressed by members of the 35 boards and commissions that have been robbed of funds has fallen on deaf ears.

We have directed much of our criticism for this sorry state at affairs at Senate President David Williams, and he richly deserves it. He brushes off complaints about his control of the Frankfort agenda by airily suggesting that, instead of new state revenue, what’s needed is a little belt-tightening, when in fact the belt is around the neck of those who need state government’s help and support.

But David Williams is not alone to blame. He didn’t hatch without help. He doesn’t keep his power without enablers.

If you want to hold someone responsible, start with U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the creator of today’s Kentucky Republican Party and the chief advocate of its basic operating principle: never, ever let yourself be responsible for raising taxes. Thank, also, the Republican senators – including our area’s Dan Seum, Ernie Harris and Julie Denton – for supporting Mr. Williams’ leadership and letting him run roughshod over the public interest. Thank Senate Democrats who supinely, and silently, accept the outrage that is Mr. Williams’ leadership. Thank our public university presidents, who gave him cover by praising 3 percent cuts on top of 3 percent cuts. Thank all the other public stewards who failed to protest publicly.

Thank yourself, for considering this politics as usual … politics as inevitable.

– The Courier-Journal, Louisville

Leave a Reply