March 23, 2018 Blog, Media

Who the bullies are in Kentucky

Take a moment to let this sink in.

Senate Republicans passed a state budget that cuts funding for children attending public schools, underfunds teachers’ pensions by $1 billion, provides no money for textbooks but added language for funding charter schools.

It also shouldn’t be lost on western Kentuckians that Gov. Bevin recently came to the area to smooth over his attacks on teachers. He immediately returned to insulting educators in the following days saying they had a “thug mentality,” and they are a part of the “the angry people who want to destroy what’s good for this state.”

Like Bevin, Senate Republicans imposed a 6.25 percent cut to all state universities. They also refused a proposal to tax cigarettes and opioid drugs that would’ve swelled state revenue by $500 million — when we so desperately need it.

Instead of finding new revenue sources and listening to the public outcry to do so, they decided instead to rob $310 million from the Kentucky Employees Health Plan, which could cause premium costs to increase by 50 percent for teachers, state employees and their family members.

But unfortunately, they didn’t stop there.

They clawed back $129 million in funding for teachers’ health insurance and passed on those costs to our local school districts in our own communities. Other cuts included:

  • A 6.25 percent cut to after-school programs
  • A 6.25 percent cut ($5.6 million) in preschool funding
  • A $9.8 million cut to Family Resources and Youth Services Centers
  • $83 million in cuts to state universities and community colleges
  • No funds for the Access to Justice program, which provides legal aid assistance to 68,000 low-income families and children who have nowhere else to turn for help.

Like legislation we’ve seen sweep across the nation, Republicans are robbing Kentucky’s current and future resources to fund their own agenda — funneling public resources into private industry’s hands.

One blatant instance is charter schools.

The language in House Bill 366 sets forth that “a local school district where a public charter school is located shall transfer the public charter school’s portion of the local school district’s funding.” But the state can’t adequately fund our public schools (see page 94 of the bill).

They have attempted to legislate into law how a for-profit school can take our taxpayer dollars.

They’ve passed laws this session to weaken public education on many fronts.

Teachers pay over the course of their careers into cost of living adjustments just as they do for health insurance including when they retire before they are eligible for Medicare. Bevin has purposefully misled the public saying the cost-of-living adjustments educators pay for is instead a raise during retirement shouldered solely by the state.

The Senate has passed a budget bill calling on the Teachers Retirement System to pay for the health insurance for those retirees out of a trust fund in the system. They would rather steal educators’ money just as they would rather steal funds from state employees and teachers who have paid into the Kentucky Employees Health Fund.

The Senate also added language back into their bills, also in Bevin’s budget bill, aimed at circumventing protections for the 30,000 state employees in the merit system established in the 1960s.

If you tally up the constant insults slung by Bevin, the blatant denial to seek new revenue and the continued attempted theft by the new majority in Frankfort, I think it’s evident who the thugs are here — it’s not educators or state employees.

Take a moment and let that sink in.