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"Thanks to my supporters for their optimistic enthusiasm." -Lex Hannan
We believe the following issues are important to all citizens of Kentucky.
According to the Constitution of the United States of America, the government exists to protect the rights of the people. The government does not give rights to its citizens. Citizens did not earn their rights. Citizens have their rights because they were born as human beings. They are inalienable. Human beings have among others the rights to decide what kind of work they will do, where they will live, what they will or won't eat, drink or smoke. They have the right to decide who they will love and what property to buy or sell.
People have the right to do what they choose, as long as they do not harm others. They also have the responsibility to live with the consequences of their choices, good or bad. No government bailouts.
Simply said, "You have the right to do what you choose as long as you don't hurt other people and you don't take their stuff."
The Kentucky State Legislature has decided that it will substitute its judgement for the will of the people. It chooses to incarcerate citizens at an increasing rate while many states in the country are reducing incarceration rates as well as the costs associated with putting people in cages. Kentucky's rate of incarceration is on the rise.
The Legislature imprisons Kentucky's women at a rate twice the national average. Many of Kentucky's incarcerated women are non-violent offenders. More than 30% of Kentucky's incarcerated women have children under two years of age. Does the Legislature lack the imagination needed to deal with non-violent offenders and defendants awaiting trial? Is the Legislature's only solution to lock more citizens in cages? Who are we protecting by putting non-violent offenders in cages? The Commonwealth needs some new ideas.
Send non-violent offenders home. Close half of the prisons. Save the money we are wasting on the war on crime.
What part of "non-violent" does the State Legislature not understand?
Kentuckians are dying while Legislators fiddle in Frankfort. The State Legislature has intentionally prohibited patients who suffer from cancer, PTSD, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, opioid addiction, and other maladies from using medicinal cannabis. This is cruel.
The Legislature's decision is not based in scientific fact. Citizens of Kentucky are dying from opioid poisoning and suicide because the Legislature fails to allow doctors, researchers and patients to have access to a safe, effective, not-lethal, non-addictive medication, cannabis.
Legalize cannabis, now. Stop criminal prosecution for using medicinal marijuana.
Permit Kentucky's farmers to grow cannabis. Get criminals out of the cannabis business and stop them from taking money out of the Commonwealth. Allow legitimate, honest, business people to market safe, unadulterated cannabis and hire Kentucky's unemployed to grow and sell it. Use some of the proceeds to get out of the pension fund deficit hole.
Governor Bevin calls it a crisis. He's talking about the $60-billion underfunded employee pension liability that the State Legislature has created for the citizens of Kentucky.
It has taken decades for the State Legislature's Democrats and Republicans to dig this hole. The people of Kentucky are on the hook for the entire $60-billion. That's more than $13,400 for every man woman and child in the Commonwealth. This money is owed to State employees by legal contract for their retirement benefits. We owe it to them and we must pay it, assuming of course that the government of the Commonwealth avoids bankruptcy. In the event of bankruptcy, the employees in the pension plan may only get pennies on the dollar. Bankruptcy is not fair to the State's employees or to its citizens.
The taxpayers of Kentucky were outgunned during negotiations with its union employees and by the Kentucky Education Association in particular. KEA is the union that represents the State's teachers. That union brought some very capable negotiators to the table. The taxpayers of Kentucky had only the politicians in the Legislature to represent them. Those politicians gave away the farm and the future solvency of the State. The politicians, both Republicans and Democrats, were no match for the union negotiators. Maybe our legislators didn't understand finances or the nature of pension plans. Maybe they wished the stock market would go up 8% every year or that the pension fund managers were investment geniuses. Maybe they couldn't read a balance sheet. Maybe they were asleep or maybe they were buying votes. I was graduated with a Master's Degree in Business. I can read a balance sheet. Kentucky's pension plan was out of balance from the start. It back-loaded payouts, allowed the Legislature to defer contributions to the plan and created a customized management of the fund that reeks of crony capitalism. It is not transparent.
Personally, I would like to see every teacher in Kentucky make $200,000 per year. But that is not going to happen within the public school system. According to Amanda Ripley, writing in the Wall Street Journal. "South Korean tutor Kim Ki-Hoon earns $4 million a year... South Korea's 93% high-school graduation rate dramatically outpaces that of the U.S. (a lowly 77%)."
James Marshall Crotty, writing in Forbes magazine about free-market schools in South Korea said, "This $17 billion after-school learning market has helped turn South Korea -- a majority of whose citizens were illiterate sixty years ago -- into the second top-performing country in the PISA* global test of academic excellence (far outstripping the U.S.)."
Regardless of how we got here, a $60-billion hole is huge! When you find yourself in a huge hole, and you want to get out, the first thing you need to do is stop digging. Here's what it will take:
We need to honor our contract with retired and current State employees. Don't waste time and money trying to fight it.
We need a fair contract with new employees. Probably, one that looks more like the retirement and health care contract you see in the private sector. Pay new teachers a competitive wage. Match contributions to their personal retirement plan by up to 5% of annual pay. When they retire they take the whole lump sum. But, there will be no more lifetime payments from the State treasury.
Kentucky needs new businesses and jobs and revenue streams. We can get them instantly by legalizing the number one cash crop in the State, cannabis. We all know it's here. Let's put the criminals out of the cannabis business. Legalize it and let good, honest Kentucky entrepreneurs grow and market a safe product that provides jobs.
We need to improve the quality of education in Kentucky. To do that we need to introduce competition into the system. Competition fuels new, creative ideas. Parents need more choices so they can pick the best performing schools within the public school system. Ineffective schools should be closed. Closing ineffective public schools may necessitate giving vouchers to students so they can attend effective private schools or home-schools.
Governor Bevin thinks we can fix the $60 billion deficit by cutting other State programs. I like the idea of reducing spending. But, I don't think that will be enough to crawl out of this huge hole. We can't cut our way to prosperity. We need to make our schools more effective, not less so. We need to attract more businesses to the state, not chase them away. We need better education, not more debts to pass on to our children. We need more free-market choices, not more government controls.
When you go to the polls on November 6th to vote for your State Representative, please keep this in mind. Both the Democratic and Republican candidates in the race for the 66th District were once members of the Kentucky Education Association. Do you want to have union sympathisers represent both the State's employees and Kentucky's taxpayers when it comes time to negotiate the next contract? I don't.