Members push back on Governor's Budget

Members gathered all over the state, from Madison County to Whitesburg to Covington to Lexington, last night to watch, process, and come up with action plans to push for adequate funding for health care and preserving kynect and Medicaid expansion, access to higher ed, protecting the arts, and community health.

In Northern Kentucky, about a dozen folks gathered at Wunderbar, a local bar in Covington, and noted throughout what wasn't being talked about in the address: How would so many areas of our state budget weather another 9% cut? NKY Budget Party 4

State of the Commonwealth 2016, Letcher County

In Whitesburg, about 20 members from Letcher County and Harlan County gathered at Heritage Kitchen, where members noted that the governor seemed out of touch with most Kentuckians, out of touch with how to overcome Kentucky's challenges, and seemed really interested in criminalizing folks instead of helping them. They noted the governor's emphasis on punitive measures for drug addiction, instead of funding for treatment. And they noted the qualification about the funding for Medicaid expansion, which is connected to efforts to "root out" Medicaid fraud. Lillian Prosperino said "I'm a mental health counselor, but what the people in my office worry about is people losing their health care." 

About 20 members also gathered at Wild Fig Books and Coffee and noted that the Governor's vision was not in alignment with their own.Members pointed to the difference in our vision for economic development in Kentucky: driving State of the Commonwealth 2016, CKYaround to use a lot of gas and hoping for future tax breaks for corporations, versus investing in ourselves and our infrastructure to create an economy that truly serves the people. Gary Bently works in manufacturing in Lexington. He reflected, 'I am currently a resident of Lexington but spent 12 years as an underground miner. With the decline in the coal industry and lack of employment in my home of Whitesburg this is a very very important issue for me. Without better education, improved adult education, and workforce development I feel that our state will continue to suffer."  

Folks were also concerned about the funding of programs that will impact kids' ability to learn: "What about the family resource centers, that make it possible for kids to learn once their in the classroom? Those are so important." And several members tuned in to the reference of performance-based funding for higher ed. "What does that mean for universities who are working with students who are coming from chronically under-resourced schools?" Members were also confused about the how Governor Bevin approached categorizing the workday for caseworkers as he delved into the issue of overtime pay, and noted that most state workers would be without a pay raise, again.

State of the Commonwealth 2016, Letcher County


 
The bingo cards, like the proposed budget, didn't end up turning out many winners. But members say that it was still good to be with other folks to watch and process the address, and to be in touch with each other on social media, sharing reflections and analysis along the way.  Sara Martin of CKY said, "It was really great to see folks, new and seasoned members alike, come out and get involved with educating themselves on what plans Gov. Bevin wants to implement for Kentucky. It was also very interesting to see the commentary on social media about what wasn't being said that will come down the pipeline." 

Members are planning next steps, including lobbying the legislature for a better budget, reaching out to local officials to build support for tax reform, and participating in action meetings where impacted folks can strategize together.