Sunday, February 22, 2009

My votes on HB 143 and HB 144

HB 143 and HB 144 were the tax increase bill and budget changes bill. Below is an e-mail I sent to many Boone County Schools employees. I thought I would share it with everyone.

I'd like to address this issue as briefly as possible.

The tax increase was the only option presented to us, but it was not the only option. I support repealing the prevailing wage, allowing grocery stores to sell wine, putting expanded gaming on the ballot. I am having my intern investigate the 400+ boards and commissions trying to determine which ones we can get rid of or merge. The state has a 7 person department to investigate Medicaid fraud. No one there can remember the last time someone was prosecuted for Medicaid fraud. Either there is fraud not being prosecuted (most likely), or there is no fraud (unlikely) and we can get rid of those 7 people. Either way, there are savings to be had.

This is just what I have found in 2+ years. The point is that there is so much that can be cut or saved. It is amazing to me that these items are not addressed.

Also, in the budget agreement, SEEK funding, Medicaid, higher ed loans, and some other items were listed as not being permitted to be cut by the Governor. One of those items was the state parks. So the leadership of both houses that drafted this agreement puts state parks on the same level as SEEK and Medicaid. In fact, high ed can be cut by the Governor. So state parks is more important than higher ed. Absolutely absurd.

That, in essence, why I did not support wither HB 143 or HB 144. I am not against raising taxes, I did it plenty while on Fiscal Court. I am against raising taxes where so many other options of saving money or raising new revenue are not even considered.

So what am I doing to improve education?

I have submitted a bill HB 306, requiring parents to go to at least one parent teacher conference for each child they have in public school. I would love to have it passed, but I figured most likely my best chance was to get a conversation started on the role of parents in their child's education, which has happened. I will keep pushing this issue, as I believe that parents have a responsibility and we need 100% participation if possible.

We all know that Boone County and Northern Kentucky in general are disadvantaged by the SEEK formula. During the hearing Thursday on HB 158, Speaker Stumbo's bill to grant slots to the tracks, I spoke up for Northern Kentucky. There is money in that bill for K-12. I took that opportunity, in front of all the state press, to state how if we are going to put new money into the system, then it needs to go into a "SEEK Equalization Fund".

I hope this helps explain where I came from on this issue. If there are any specific questions, I'd be happy to answer them.

Adam Koenig
State Representative, 69th District