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Coalition "Together" on Need for More $$ in KY

A new coalition of education, economic and health groups is calling on state lawmakers to find consensus on how to increase revenue in Kentucky. (Greg Stotelmyer)
A new coalition of education, economic and health groups is calling on state lawmakers to find consensus on how to increase revenue in Kentucky. (Greg Stotelmyer)
February 4, 2016

FRANKFORT, Ky. – A diverse alliance of education, economic and health organizations has formed to send Kentucky lawmakers a message – the state needs to increase revenue.

The Kentucky Together Coalition comes just days after Gov. Matt Bevin proposed deep budget cuts to many parts of state government.

Coalition spokesman Kenny Colston says everyday life in Kentucky has been affected by multiple cuts since the recession hit in 2008.

"And these groups are basically standing together and saying, 'You know, we have options besides these cuts that are hurting everyday Kentuckians,’ he points out. ‘We have the option to invest in our communities, to build thriving communities, to invest in education and health and a lot of other vital public resources.’”

Bevin says the cuts are necessary to provide money to help shore up the state's underfunded state and teacher pension systems.

Colston says Kentucky currently loses more in tax breaks and loopholes than it receives in revenue.

He stresses the new alliance wants lawmakers to start building consensus on common sense changes to Kentucky's tax laws – noting a multitude of tax reform ideas have been proposed over the last couple of decades.

"It could be closing loopholes,” he points out. “It could be expanding the sales tax to various services.

“Right now, we're just coming together and telling lawmakers the time for studying is, is over."

The 19 groups that formed the Kentucky Together Coalition include the state's two teachers' unions and the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents.

Tom Shelton, who heads the superintendents' association, says while the legislature has been able to keep total funding dollars for education relatively flat since 2008, rising costs and more students have led to a reduction in per pupil spending.

He cites the need to get more students into early childhood education as one example of why more revenue is needed.

"Only about 50 percent of our students are prepared for kindergarten when they come in and that's because we don't have a strong early childhood system to make sure all those students have what they need in order to be prepared," he states.

The Kentucky Together Coalition has launched a website that includes stories highlighting the impact of budget cuts on communities and families. That's at KentuckyTogether.org.






Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY