Gov. Steve Beshear
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear made his case for reforming Kentucky's tax structure during his State of the Commonwealth speech Wednesday night.
The governor, delivering his sixth State of the Commonwealth, said the state's leaders must stop putting off uncomfortable decisions.
“We will not be able to invest in critical areas like job training and education, nor solve monstrous problems like pension liabilities, unless we think strategically and act aggressively and courageously,” said Beshear. “The question for us in this room is simple but soul-searching: Are we courageous enough to invest in our children’s future?”
Beshear said massive budget cuts over the past five years have hurt key government programs and that additional revenue is needed to undo the damage. He acknowledged the challenge for lawmakers to address such a large problem during a short 2013 legislative session which must end by March 30th.
The task only appears to get tougher in coming years as the state’s expenses grow. The governor pointed to structural imbalances already in the budget, legislatively mandated increases in health care for retired teachers and pensions, inflationary growth in Medicaid, and health insurance for teachers and state employees.
Beshear asked lawmakers to refrain from cutting from education and job creation to make up for other areas of the state budget.
“I am not going to allow our schoolchildren to be collateral damage as we work to make our public pension system whole again,” he added. “We have to stop putting off uncomfortable decisions for future generations.”
As anticipated, Beshear did not mention casino gaming as a way to gain revenue. He said Tuesday that a vote on a casino gaming amendment is not likely in 2013.