Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear delivered his sixth State of the Commonwealth address to a joint session of the Kentucky House and Senate live on KET last night. In his nearly 43-minute speech he talked about a new atmosphere of civility and respectful dialogue that’s emerging, and expressed optimism that state lawmakers will reject “Washington-style politics from dictating (Kentucky’s) agenda and setting the tone for our discourse.” He cautioned against complacency in settling into a “just getting by” attitude and declaring that that’s no longer a true measure of success. He urged lawmakers to not concentrate just on the immediate needs, but those in future years.
The session is already 20 percent over, as the Governor reminded the House and Senate members, with much work to do. He recalled the numerous budget reductions he made that amounted to more than a billion-and-a-half dollars in the last five years. Even though the state weathered the financial storm, he said the evidence of fiscal restraints hurt classroom instruction by eliminating textbook funding; slashing child care assistance subsidies for low-income families; and cutting agencies the help seniors. He said Kentucky couldn’t afford to make the state’s children collateral damage in wrestling with the herculean issues of pension and tax reform.
Along with the public pension system, Governor Beshear said there were other critical issues he hopes the General Assembly will tackle in the 24 remaining days of the session. He said he hopes state lawmakers embrace a statewide smoking ban prohibiting indoor smoking in public spaces, much like what three dozen other cities and counties have done. The Governor urged lawmakers to authorize agency bonding authority for public universities to build needed academic and athletic complexes and student housing facilities. And, he stressed the need to adjust the new law that toughens regulations of pain management clinics.