Kentucky State of the Commonwealth Address 2007

 

FRANKFORT, Ky., Feb. 6 - Following is the prepared text of Gov. Ernie Fletcher's (R) 2007 state of the commonwealth address.

Click here to access audio recording of the speech.

Let's start by having a moment of silence for the people who lost their lives this morning in Nelson County.

First Lady, Constitutional Officers, Chief Justice Lambert, Justices, President Williams, Speaker Richards, Legislators and my fellow Kentuckians…

I want to begin by welcoming Kentucky 's new legislators to this august body.

I also want to welcome and recognize our new justices.

I had the honor of appointing Justice McAnulty, the first African-American to serve on Kentucky 's Supreme Court.  Congratulations to you and to the people of Jefferson County on your election.

This is the first short session where we don't have to write a budget; in that sense it is historic.

A little over three years ago I gave my first State of the Commonwealth address.

Prisoners released early to balance the budget were committing crimes…

Elderly and disabled patients saw their nursing home benefits slashed…

Employment was stagnant and revenues dropped…

We faced a large deficit.

TAX REFORM

Proposals of tax increases came from many voices.

They said raising taxes was the only way to fund education.

Together, we decided, that wasn't the real solution to our problem. 

We lived within our means and reformed our taxes, lowered the income tax on 78 percent of working Kentuckians and reduced the tax margin on businesses by nearly 30 percent.

We funded those changes by closing loop-holes for out of state businesses and raising the cigarette tax.

It may not have been the easy answer, but it honored our dedication to a guiding set of conservative principles.

And it worked. We are encouraging growth, restoring hope and creating opportunity.

GOVERNMENT EFFICIENCY

Three years ago, with thrift, courage and vision, we faced the challenge before us.

The thrift to wean government from much waste and inefficiency…

We reduced the size of government by over 2,000 employees through attrition... We increased the collection of delinquent taxes by 54 million dollars per year…

We now have over 80 million dollars more to build roads in your communities because we tightened change orders and reduced bureaucracy in transportation…

We faced our challenge with the courage to reform…

We substantially reformed an antiquated tax system…

We transformed state employee health insurance to a self-insured program, saving millions in cost increases and keeping benefits stable…

And we reformed Medicaid - ending decades of neglect…

And we answered our challenge with the vision to build more than ever in our history.

We built roads and bridges that are so much more than asphalt and concrete; they are safer paths to expanding dreams, new horizons and over 100,000 new jobs.

By creating an atmosphere of growth, we now have more people working than ever before. Businesses are more profitable.

New companies are springing up all across the state and the country is now looking to Kentucky as an emerging biotech player.

We built places of learning and research to strengthen hope, build careers and prepare a smarter, more capable workforce.

And we did it without cutting benefits for our most vulnerable citizens and without raising taxes.

VALUES

We designed our reform with time-honored and proven values.

From the Old Testament we are admonished to ''Execute true justice,
Show mercy and compassion'.

I believe we have followed those values--

Treating our vulnerable more compassionately…

Providing better protection and justice for our unborn…

Caring for our newborns more thoroughly…

And strengthening our commitment to education and to those who teach our children.

We're also redeeming the lives of those ravaged by drugs and toughening the laws against those who manufacture illegal drugs.

We're ensuring that Kentucky ages gracefully. In fact, recently I created the Department for Aging and Independent Living.

Finally, Frankfort will provide a clear voice of advocacy on behalf of aging and disabled Kentuckians.

Already this new department is implementing a Long Term Living Initiative to develop a single place to find information and resources so aging and disabled Kentuckians can find the best care-- in the right setting.

In just three years, we have made a difference-- sometimes a difference between life and death.

Rebecca Gambrel never wore her seat belt and was angered when she heard of the Primary Seat Belt Law passed. Yet, she didn't want to break the law, so she buckled up.

On October 11, 2006, Rebecca was in a head-on collision. The officers who responded said, "You're one lucky lady! Your seatbelt saved your life."

Now, no one rides in Rebecca's car without their seat belt.

Rebecca is with us tonight to thank you for passing the seat belt law.  Please welcome her.

Tonight, I'd also like for us to recognize a Kentuckian-- one who epitomizes the bravery of each of our soldiers.

This soldier showed remarkable courage during an intense battle against
al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan . 

On March 4, 2002, his demonstration of pure valor helped ten wounded Americans receive life-saving treatment and led to the recovery of seven servicemen killed during grenade and mortar attacks.

Please welcome Silver Star recipient:  Master Sergeant Keary Miller.

TEAM WORK

More than 8,500 National Guard soldiers and airmen were deployed to fight the Global War on Terror.

They understand the teamwork that is necessary for a mission's success.

Recently, we witnessed two other examples of what can be accomplished when you assemble a great team.

In fact, when was the last time a Kentucky Governor accompanied two football teams to winning bowl games?

UK and U of L have never won bowl games in the same season.

Coach Brooks is with us tonight.  Please join me in congratulating him, his team and the University of Kentucky on a fantastic season and winning the Music City Bowl.

I also congratulate the University of Louisville football team for an excellent season and its victory in the Orange Bowl.  I'm proud to welcome Quarterback Brian Brohm and his father, Oscar.

Brian was considering an early entry into the NFL draft, but decided to stay for one last shot at a national championship.  Brian, we'd like to see you get there. Thank you for joining us tonight.

Wins like this are good for all of Kentucky and help us recruit not only talent for the field but also for the classroom and the laboratory.

I have assembled one of the finest teams this state has ever seen--- and that this team does an excellent job implementing the legislation you pass as well as helping you serve your constituents.

For their expertise and hard work, join me in thanking our Cabinet Secretaries, their staff and all of Kentucky 's public servants.

A year ago this body passed a robust budget that took on nearly twice the debt of any previous one in our history.

The budget included sound investments in education and infrastructure.

However, I vetoed some projects to avoid assuming a debt level that threatened the state's bond rating.

The vetoes accomplished our goal.

Wall Street respected our responsible actions.  As a result, Kentucky 's outlook from Standard and Poor's was moved from stable to positive.

Our revenues are so improved, that our debt ratio, even after restoring projects, will be less than the budget with the vetoed projects.

WHERE WE GO FROM HERE

Tonight, I am here to report that the state of the Commonwealth is much stronger and healthier than it was three years ago, but we still have challenges that lie ahead in order to reach the goals that I laid out for the next decade.

Now, where do we go from here?

We have the opportunity to build an even stronger reserve fund and revisit un-met needs.

The Consensus Forecasting Group has projected an additional 401 million dollars…bringing the total surplus of the last two budget cycles to more than 700 million dollars.

This is not a budget year, but our effort to run government effectively has created the opportunity to address some of Kentucky 's pressing needs in this session.

I know each of you will have priorities as well, and I look forward to working with you.

RESTORATION OF PROJECTS

I believe we can now, responsibly move forward on those vetoed projects and I support restoring all of them.

Some of the projects have changed slightly and I made some revisions.  For example, I support funding the design of the Breathitt Veterinary Center in Western Kentucky as it has significance for homeland security and the integrity of our livestock industry.

RETIREMENT

I also want us to look at some of our other needs with an eye on saving for the future by placing nearly half the total surplus into a combination of our reserve fund and the state's pension programs.

Kentucky made a commitment to its public servants and I want to assure all retirees and those who are currently working, that we will keep the promises made to them.

Last year, I placed 24 million dollars from the 06 surplus into the state employee pension programs.

Now, after discussion with many of you, I recommend we put no less than 50 million dollars into the retirement accounts for both state workers and teachers.

The most effective way to use this money to put it toward the health care retirement benefit plans since they have the fastest growing liability.

This funding addresses our short-term need and yesterday, I formed a blue ribbon commission to assess and make recommendations for the long term stability of our retirement system.

BUDGET RESERVE TRUST FUND

With the significant surplus we now have, I recommend an allocation of 150 million dollars to the reserve trust fund bringing the balance to approximately 386 million dollars, the largest in our history.

There are three reasons why this deposit is important.

First, it allows us to better prepare for unexpected economic downturns or disasters.

Secondly, it helps keep our strong credit rating.

And thirdly, it allows us to plan for initiatives in the budget session next year including major health care and education proposals.

As Bill Gates has written, "…we are moving at the speed of thought."

The people of Kentucky voted for annual sessions because they understood that the needs of our state cannot always wait to be addressed every two years.

The other proposals I make tonight should not wait until the next session.

I'd like to thank the thousands of Kentuckians who attended my 14 town hall meetings, voted on the town hall Web site or sent letters to or called my office. 
When I traveled around the state during the forums, one of the messages I heard was: We need more investment in education.

How should we now build on the 25 percent increase in our current budget for primary and secondary education?

The Read to Achieve Program that the First Lady championed is working, but to help us compete nationally and internationally we all recognize that we must do better in math and science.

Let me thank Representative Moberly and Senator Kelly for their work in this area.

I recommend tonight that we invest an additional 7 million dollars in our Math Achievement Fund to make this program available to more than 100 schools across the state.

I also applaud Senator Winters and Senator Kelly for sponsoring SB 1 and 2 which will encourage more into the fields of math and science.

We are above the national ACT average in reading.  If we raise our math and science scores to the national average, Kentucky will have overall ACT scores above the national average. We are finally that close.

I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the 2007 Kentucky Teacher of the Year.

Susanne Burckhardt is a national board-certified teacher at Simpsonville Elementary.

She represents the quality teacher that we want to keep in and attract to Kentucky .

Susanne, thank you and congratulations.

We have many poor conditioned school buildings in every region of the Commonwealth.

Therefore, I am developing a long-term plan to alleviate all of the worst conditioned school facilities, including the challenges endured by high growth districts. 

I want to thank President Williams and Senator Winters for agreeing in advance to work on this plan.

Experts have concluded that there is a direct relationship between the physical condition of a school facility and a student's academic achievement.

The plan, at a minimum, will bring all school facilities to a level where the condition of the school building does NOT impede a child's ability to learn.

Because of the extensive number of urgent needs schools, the 50 million additional dollars in the current budget helped, but clearly left many schools in need.

You have expressed the desire not to expand the budget in this session and I respect that, but please know that there are areas of urgent need and super high growth that could use additional funding now-- and should the budget be opened I would encourage investment in our school facilities.

TUITION ASSISTANCE

We Kentuckians set a lofty goal of increasing the percentage of Kentuckians with bachelor's degrees to the national average by 2020.

Higher education means higher earnings. In thirty years, a person with a professional degree makes 2.3 million dollars more than a high school graduate.

And higher education is the only way for our state to remain competitive.

To achieve our goal, higher education should be available to every Kentuckian regardless of financial condition. I want to thank the University Presidents for their recent focus on needs-based tuition assistance.  Several have begun their own programs.

But, the fact remains that tuition has increased 145 percent in the last 10 years.

And half the qualified students who apply for our College Assistance Program are turned down for lack of funds.

Statistics show that college enrollment for those turned down is 21 percent lower, than for those who received help.

And a small survey at Kentucky State University showed that drop-out rates have been magnified by increasing costs.

I also believe there are low income students in middle school and high school that give up on the hope of attending college because of the financial barriers.

We can do something about that.

We should extend to every student and family in Kentucky a single, over-riding message: The Kentucky Covenant…a pact that if you work hard, get good grades and take rigorous courses, we will guarantee you an affordable college education here in this state regardless of your financial means.

We will also provide incentives for high achievement in Math and Science.

I am asking you to join me as we work with our universities and community colleges to make this Kentucky Covenant with every student in our state.

Working with leading experts in education and financial models we will develop a sustainable program plan for the 08 session

And working with the Universities and combining resources with some of the surplus money that we put in the Reserve Fund I believe we will develop a plan to guarantee every Kentucky student a chance to succeed.

But some students cannot wait until then-so I also propose that 20 million dollars be invested in more needs-based assistance through our College Access Program and the Kentucky Tuition Grant program.

These funds will reduce the waiting list and result in more Kentuckians going to college providing financial aid to an additional 11,800 Kentuckians, about 2,400 of whom would not have enrolled otherwise.

Also, there are more than half a million Kentucky adults with some college education but no bachelor's degree. Because there are no needs-based state-funded programs for adult part-time employed students to address this need, I request you invest 5 million dollars to allow Kentucky adults to finish their college education.

Some will say wait until 08 and I understand your concern, but I believe if we are to meet our 2020 goals which this body established we should help all we can when we can.

HEALTH CARE

There are two critical areas that need action now to address our urgent health care needs and bring lower cost, higher quality health care to Kentucky families.

We have the second highest rate of cervical cancer deaths in the nation. 

Most of these deaths are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus.

Thanks to a new vaccine developed, in part, by three individuals in our audience, future deaths can be avoided.

These three dedicated researchers from our own University of Louisville helped to create and test the world's first cervical cancer vaccine.

Please welcome Dr. Ben Jenson, Dr. Dr. Shin Je Ghim  and Dr. Stanley Gall

If you have ever watched a patient die of cervical cancer, and I have, you would do every thing you could to make this vaccine available.

I am moving forward with funding this vaccine for our Medicaid patients out of the existing budget.

But for low-income individuals or those without insurance, it is not an affordable option.

For these Kentuckians, I ask for 4.1 million dollars to make this vaccine available to them.

We are not in the business of parenting.

So, I propose we properly educate parents about the vaccine and give them the option for their children to receive the vaccine.

E-HEALTH

We are also working to make health care more affordable for Kentucky families through our e-Health efforts. One of the major barriers to achieving this goal is that health care is still dominated by inefficient paper processes.

I recently received a call from Secretary Leavitt of the federal Department of Health and Human Services. He wanted to let me know Kentucky received a 4.9 million dollar federal grant to help our Medicaid program lead our state's e-Health efforts.

This federal funding is a boost to our efforts to bring lower cost, higher-quality health care to Kentucky.

Now I ask you to allocate an additional 4.1 million dollars of state funding to ensure all Kentucky families and communities can benefit from e-Health. 

Also, from the town hall meetings, I heard about the need of our private childcare providers who take care of children with intense care needs.

Recognizing our providers' increasing challenges, I propose 7.5 million dollars be allocated to increase payments to ensure our most vulnerable children continue to receive the services they need.

This funding, when added to matching federal dollars will bring the total to about 16.4 million dollars.

While the majority of this funding will support all providers, I am asking that a portion of these funds be used to address the more intense care needs of some our children.

ECONOMIC INCENTIVES-INITIATIVES

Let me now move to economic incentives that will help our state continue to grow.

Tonight I offer several economic development initiatives.

The first is a package that will help keep our outstanding corporate citizen, Ford Motor Company prosperous in Kentucky.

This package includes 10 million dollars for training and other incentives. 

Both Senate and House leadership, including Senator Seum and Representative Clark have worked with us to develop this legislation.  Now, I ask for your support.

Additionally, I will ask for an economic development bond of 10 million dollars to allow us to create even more job opportunities in Kentucky .

ENERGY

Achieving energy independence is one of our major opportunities.

Last year, you passed HB 299 which represented the beginning of Kentucky becoming part of the solution to the nation's dependence on foreign oil.  That bill was a good start. 

Now, it's time to go to the next level.

To help our nation achieve energy independence, I propose that we enact legislation that does 4 things:

First,  provide tax incentives and credits for state-of -the-art electric and coal-to-liquids generating facilities. This makes us competitive in attracting capital for these large projects.

Second, provide revenue bonds and grant opportunities for new facilities that provide new and clean methods for generating fuel and energy.

Third,   extend the clean-coal tax credit for coal-fired generating facilities that use clean-coal technologies, such as IGCC. 

Fourth, adopt tax credits for individuals and builders who install Energy Star certified energy saving products. This will encourage Kentuckians to conserve.

Energy independence transcends politics.  It is good policy for our nation, our state and our citizens.  Representatives Adkins, Gooch and Pullin and Senator Stivers have done great work in this area already.  Let me say thank you.

CONSERVATION EASEMENT

Another legacy we can leave our children is one of preserving our landscapes and the natural beauty that we have in Kentucky .

Opportunities to participate in outdoor recreation provide numerous benefits to building strong communities including enhanced quality of life, improved public health, new tourism opportunities, and an added amenity for our economic development efforts.

No one is more supportive of good development than this administration.

We also realize that a growing economy needs new homes and businesses, but over 47,000 acres each year are lost to development.

We are getting to the point where only the wealthy can afford access to land for hunting, fishing and wildlife observation.

We need more accessible land for all Kentuckians, habitat for wildlife and recreational opportunities.

According to Commissioner Gassett, this bill sponsored by Representatives Webb and McKee and Senator Tapp is the most significant piece of legislation for conservation and sportsmen and women in Kentucky in our lifetime.

This voluntary program respects personal property rights.

There is no cost in this biennium.  In 2009, the cost is 3 million dollars.  This amount increases each year and will be capped at 10 million dollars per year beginning in 2012.

I hope you can join me and the one million Kentuckians who have hunting and fishing licenses, as well as the thousands who enjoy viewing wildlife, by passing this legislation.

HIGH TECH INCENTIVES

We have become the buzz of the high tech industry with the incentives you passed last session.  With those tools, Commissioner Clayton has worked to add 101 high tech companies to our growing knowledge based economy in last year alone.

We have more interest than we expected and let me ask that you allocate 2 million dollars for this fiscal year and 5 million dollars for 08 for the purpose of attracting more of these companies that are finding Kentucky a new bio-tech player.

EVENTS-WEG

In less than four years, we will bring the world's focus to Kentucky for the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park .

After our trip to Aachen , Germany to observe the 2006 Games, it became apparent that to host the finest World Equestrian Games ever, we had more work to do.

I am asking you to fund a 10,000 seat outdoor spectator arena expandable to 30,000 temporary seating as well as other improvements to the indoor arena you authorized last year.

Also, I am asking for the authorization to spend road fund money to make transportation improvements in order to accommodate the over 500,000 expected visitors.

With these additions we can showcase Kentucky to over 200 countries and hundreds of millions of people.

This will make the Horse Park the finest equestrian facility in the world for annual legacy events already in the making.

The total cost-- 28 million dollars in bonds and 10 million in road funds. 

The economic impact-- about 150 million dollars annually.

The value of this chance to show the World our beautiful Commonwealth-- priceless.

ADD DISTRICTS

Every county judge and local official knows how important Kentucky Area Development Districts are to their community's and county's success.

The ADDs bugets have been basically level for several years and yet they continue to add a valuable service to counties and local government.

As we ask for more regional planning and cooperation it is important to give them the tools they need.

I support increasing their funding in fiscal year 08 by 1.5 million dollars and then looking at additional funding in 09 when we return.

KIA - WOLF CREEK

Recently, because of concerns regarding the integrity of Wolf Creek Dam, the Corps of Engineers announced that the water level in Lake Cumberland will be lowered. 

Taking this situation seriously, I assembled an interagency working group to plan for and respond to the needs which are likely to arise from this circumstance. 

My first priority is the safety of the citizens in the region. 

We are doing our part to assist with the potential impact on tourism, fishing and the general economy in this area. 

This situation has a potential for far-reaching challenges including water and energy supplies, as well as emergency response plans, in the event of a breach. 

So we can be better prepared for situations like this and other urgent needs, that communities across the Commonwealth may have, I am asking for bonding authority for $25 million be placed in the Community Economic Growth Grant fund and $20 million be used to recapitalize Fund B of the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority.

In addition, I am asking you tonight for flexibility in how I may expend surplus funds proactively to assist the citizens and communities in this region to help with the possible challenges arising from the Wolfe Creek Dam situation. 

This funding will help us respond to citizens and local government not only in this area, but all across the state.

I'd like to recognize Senator Jensen and Thayer for support other initiatives to streamline how communities apply for and receive funding.

SOCIAL WORKER BILL

This fall, an unconscionable tragedy occurred in Henderson County .  Boni Frederick, one of our state's social service aides, was killed during a visitation between a toddler and his mother.

Every day in Kentucky , our social service aides walk into dangerous situations.  For too long we have provided too few resources to these public servants who protect our children.

My administration will help make the jobs of our social workers safer.  Representatives Burch, Wayne, Lee, Senator Denton and many others are proposing ways to fundamentally change our social service system so that we keep families and state employee safe.

This is what I promised to Boni's co-workers, and what I call on us all to live up to now.  I commit to working with these legislators to fund this initiative.

FLIGHT 5191

This past year we had another tragedy…the crash of Flight 5191.  Nothing we do can return the loss or fill the void left by that tragedy. So many of us lost friends and some lost family.

I wish to recognize the families of the victims of Flight 5191.  I also wish to recognize the Kentuckians who responded to this disaster.

Members of the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government and the Blue Grass Airport have met to assemble a Flight 5191 Memorial Commission to oversee the design, selection and construction of a memorial to those who lost their lives in this tragedy.  I want to thank Mayor Newberry and his staff and Michael Gobb for their leadership in this respect.

I encourage you to provide the financial support for a fitting memorial to these victims and their families.

DRUG INITIATIVE

Let me turn to a deep concern that plagues not only Kentucky , but the nation.

We all have witnessed the destructive power of drugs to ravage lives and families, to weaken our communities and to overload our criminal justice system.

It is an epidemic.

We have taken some important steps. 

To fight not only drugs, but the chronic homelessness it causes we have established ten recovery centers across the state with 1,000 beds of hope.

We have strengthened our rehabilitation efforts in our prisons and have increased those beds from 400 to 1,400.

With the Methamphetamine legislation you passed we are making progress.

There are 57 percent less reported Meth labs and an estimated 69 percent reduction in exposure of children to methamphetamine.

It is now time to take the next step in our fight to tackle this problem.

Joining Senators Stivers and Kelly along with General Stumbo we announced legislation that would help us take one of the most significant step this state has ever taken to stop the scourge of drugs.

It is an approach to attack the problem at every point:

To stop illegal transportation of drugs and the seizure of funds of Drug Traffickers, electronic monitoring, tougher Internet pharmacy enforcement and rehabilitation for Kentuckians struggling with substance abuse.
I hope you will support us in this effort.

The first role of government is to protect it citizens and especially our children.

One other thing I ask you to do this session is to make the KLEFPF fund whole by making all certified peace officers eligible.

JAILS

Together we must begin to focus our attention on an issue critical to the financial stability of Counties all across this Commonwealth, the cost of operating county jails. This is a problem that has developed over years and now is becoming more significant as it affects the budgets of many counties.  We have increased the per diem recently but a comprehensive long term solution has not been undertaken.

Indeed the time is now for the development of a bi-partisan short time solution to address immediate needs, followed by a comprehensive re-examination of our corrections program across the Commonwealth.

I hope during this session that action to relieve the short term concerns as well as plan for a long term solution is undertaken.  I look forward to working with you.

In 2005, I established a panel to study the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights.  The results revealed the commission's staffing level is inadequate to decrease the number of discrimination cases it receives.

Tonight, I request the commission be given $300,000 in fiscal year 08 to meet its mission of encouraging fair treatment and discouraging discrimination against all racial and ethnic groups in Kentucky .

VETERANS INITIATIVE

In my last State of the Commonwealth address, I closed with a salute to our soldiers and veterans.

In the past year more Kentuckians have sacrificed personal freedoms, physical well-being and sometimes their lives to stand up to the forces of terrorism.

Since last year, over twenty brave Kentuckians gave us their all, dying in the fight to oppose those who would threaten our freedom.

This year I propose a comprehensive set of initiatives to begin to pay back those who serve and have served so selflessly for you and me.

I am establishing a veterans advocate and benefits specialist in the Personnel Cabinet to assist Kentucky veterans through the application and interview process for state jobs.

I announced my support for bonding the full 6 million dollar expansion of the Western Kentucky Veterans Center so that we can move forward on constructing a place for 40 more beds.  Through federal grant funds, we will be reimbursed for this cost in the future.

I also will ask the Secretary of the Finance and Administration Cabinet to write a letter of gracious acceptance to allow us to except land from Fort Knox for an additional state veterans nursing home and to extend our state veterans cemetery.

Last session you authorized a Veterans' Personal Loan Program.  I am now asking for 2.5 million dollars to fund this program in the current budget.

For veterans unable to care for their own affairs by the federal VA, I have proposed a Conservator Program to help veterans manage their financial and personal affairs.

We also are working with Representative Wilkey who has introduced a Wounded and Disabled Veterans Bill that will provide lifetime support and case management to those scarred from the battlefield.

Tonight, I wish to introduce you to Herman Horn.  He is a survivor of Pearl Harbor and represents the thousands of veterans who will benefit if we pass this legislation.

On the morning of December 7, 1941, Herman woke up and the Japanese were bombing and strafing everything he could see.  Mr. Horn's unit escaped the initial attack and took action to stage a counter-attack.

He is now the president of the Kentucky Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, and for many years has shared his experience with hundreds of students.

Herman, thank your for coming and for sharing your story with us.

Our soldiers with uncommon valor protect our freedom.  Their families make financial sacrifices…the deployments, the loneliness, the anxiety.

We can afford easily to ease some of that burden by exempting the pay of active, National Guard and reserve soldiers from the state income tax.

This legislation is sponsored by Representatives Siler, Ballard, Dossett and Senator Tori.

The cost:  8.6 million dollars this budget cycle, then about 16.5 million dollars annually there after.

The benefits are numerous.  Many soldiers change their residency to other states because of our income tax. 

We can attract many of the over 8 out of ten Fort Campbell soldiers who make Tennessee their home instead of Kentucky, because of the income tax issue.  I believe that, in and of its self may make up most of the cost of the initiative.

I ask for your support to do this to honor those who fight for our freedom and security.

CLOSING

In closing let me say that here in Frankfort the well-heeled voices are easy to hear, hard to ignore and inviting to heed.

But if we listen carefully, we will hear the soft and timid voices of the poor, the fatherless and the downtrodden that without our special efforts will go unnoticed.

 It is often in the still, small voice that truth resounds.

Let us listen more carefully to do justice to those that our creator called the least of these my brethren as we have done these three years.

Through cautious management, honest debate and by putting aside our political leanings, we have together turned Kentucky around.

Thousands of people are now hearing about our Unbridled Spirit, they like what they hear.

Over the next few years we will have nearly a million visitors attending world-class events and the Lincoln bicentennial celebration. 

Because of the work we have done together, they will like what they see.

Thank you and God bless.

 
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