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While it's natural to be troubled by Governor Steve Beshear's drastically austere state budget plan that even he admits will be "inadequate for the needs of our people," it also contains a few nuggets of hope.
First, as we suggested, Governor Beshear isn't slashing all departments and programs equally, but is preserving spending levels – or even increasing them – for a few priorities like public education.
But perhaps more importantly, the deep cuts this budget proposal requires in critical programs should finally make it impossible for the do-nothings in Frankfort to ignore the fatal flaws in the Commonwealth's current revenue-generating model any longer.
The governor is using this opportunity to once again promote expanded gambling as a source of new revenue, and it's no secret I support that. But that alone won't be enough.
Kentucky needs to attract new businesses of all kinds to locate here, and give reasons for those already here to invest more. But our current punitive tax code isn't likely to do that. Nor is our reputation as one of the nation's least educated and most unhealthy states.
Pain is never fun. But if the pain this new budget inflicts is enough to get our legislators' serious attention about instituting real reform and acknowledging the realities of the 21st century, it will be more than worth it.