Whitesburg KY
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Some priorities for Beshear

Regardless of whether their ballots were cast in favor of Democratic challenger Steve Beshear, or in opposition to Republican incumbent Ernie Fletcher, the result of this month’s election is the same. More than 619,000 Kentucky voters have hired a new leader for the commonwealth. Winning nearly 60 percent of total votes cast, Beshear easily defeated Fletcher to become the next governor of Kentucky.

When addressing a crowd of ecstatic supporters gathered election night in Frankfort, Beshear couldn’t have made a more accurate statement when he said, “Tomorrow begins the hard task of governing.”

He’s right. As difficult and exhausting as the campaign trail can be for challengers and incumbents alike, the real work now begins. The potential for a brighter, more prosperous and scandal-free Kentucky will depend upon how carefully he makes his decisions in the early days of his administration.

Beshear has an opportunity to break what Kentuckians have experienced and disappointingly come to expect for far too long in such misuses of power as providing preference to party members when hiring for protected state jobs and other political scandals. Beshear will do well to learn from the mistakes made by the past two administrations from both sides of the political fence that lead to storm clouds of controversy. His must not be the third.

To make good on his stated goal of forging bipartisanship in state government, the new governor must outline a well-constructed and forward-moving plan for the General Assembly. He must set a tone for motivating cooperation and collaboration across a divided state legislature. He must set an agenda of priority issues that build upon Fletcher’s successes and capture untapped opportunities for improvement – and an agenda that is not dependent upon funds derived from expanded gambling.

What should these priorities be?

For starters, here are some that must be on his list:

– Stabilize and strengthen the state’s pension fund so local governments can afford to meet the financial obligations promised to current retirees while affordably planning for those still in the local state work force.

– Empower more localized revenue decision-making authority while also better funding state mandates that are pushed down to local governments.

– Implement further improvements to the state’s tax system by eliminating inequities that exist through too many inappropriate exemptions.

– Further strengthen economic development across the state to bring better-paying and more stable employment opportunities for Kentuckians.

– Further improve the quality of education across all grade levels in the public school system while also making post-secondary education more affordable at Kentucky’s colleges and universities.

– Make improved health care more accessible for those who can least afford it across the state.

– The News-Enterprise, Elizabethtown

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