Editorial: Fletcher doing what Kentucky voters elected him to do

January 13, 2004

Despite being roundly chastised by the education establishment for what amount to minuscule cuts in education spending, Gov. Ernie Fletcher is doing exactly what the people of Kentucky elected him to do.

During his campaign, Fletcher promised not to increase taxes, but he did say that he favored "modernization" of the state tax code.

Fletcher said in his central campaign document, "Restoring Hope," that "tax modernization must: 1) be revenue neutral; 2) grow revenue commensurate with the economy; 3) be business-friendly; 4) help low-income taxpayers; and 5) protect the taxpayers from stand-alone increases."

Much of the criticism directed toward Fletcher by the state's liberal establishment and by state legislators from Lexington, who are little more than flacks for the University of Kentucky, amounts to an affirmation of the tax-and-spend policies of the string of Democratic administrations that turned Kentucky into a model of high taxes and low incomes.


It would be totally wrong for Fletcher to begin his administration by giving in to the Chicken Little Democrats proclaiming that the sky will fall in because education has to bear some of the pain involved in balancing the state budget.

Fletcher pointed out in a press conference Monday that despite the cuts, education spending now consumes an even larger share of the state budget because of deeper cuts in other parts of state government. Furthermore, even if the governor were to propose a massive tax increase now, it would be too late to make up for the $302 million budget shortfall that existed when he took office. What would Fletcher's critics have him do, violate his constitutional mandate to keep the state from bankruptcy?

And where were Fletcher's critics during the fat years of the administration of Gov. Paul Patton when the former governor criss-crossed the state like Santa Claus in his sleigh passing out millions to grease his bid for re-election and a possible run for the U.S. Senate later on?

Clearly, what is needed now is the kind of review of state government that makes sure that the billions in tax money the state already receives is spent wisely, in a way that will make a better future for all Kentuckians. No state - or country, for that matter - can tax its way to prosperity. The Democrats have tried that in Kentucky for decades, only to see the state fall farther and farther behind neighboring states with lower taxes and higher incomes.

When the people of Kentucky elected Ernie Fletcher, they voted for a change. It's time now to give him a chance to bring about that change.

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