Two things are almost guaranteed to happen in Kentucky's upcoming General Assembly:
Practically everyone will agree we need to spend much more on elementary and secondary education to bring us up to adequate standards; and --
Absolutely no meaningful tax reform will be passed that would make that possible.
Since we're not likely to have any new money to spend on our elementary and high schools any time soon, any increases will have to come from an existing source of funds. So how about the Kentucky Lottery?
Yes, a large portion of Lottery proceeds already go toward education. But that money - over $2 billion since 1999 - currently helps pay for the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship Program, the College Access Program and the Kentucky Tuition Grants Program.
All are great programs. But what they all have in common is that they're intended to encourage more enrollment and better performance at the college level. That's certainly worthwhile, but college attendance is a moot point if our kids don't have the tools to perform in grades one to twelve.
Just an idea, but what if just 50 percent of that $2 billion in Lottery cash over the next 15 years went instead to elementary and high school education in Kentucky? That might help stop the bleeding. And in the absence of new revenue sources, I think it's worth a try.