Political powers showed their worst; we work to build the best

KFTC works for an open, healthy democracy and a high quality of life for all people. In recent days we witnessed some of the best examples of democratic participation and the worst examples of political manipulation. As legislators passed bills that undermine our democratic values and sense of basic fairness, Kentuckians stood up on the steps of the capitol and across the state to demonstrate the grassroots power at the heart of democracy.

As we move forward in this fight, it’s important that we stand together. We are working for a Kentucky that we haven’t yet achieved, where politicians don’t have the power to divide us. By being part of a movement that is inclusive and builds off the strength that we have when we work together, we can create such a Kentucky.

The attack on working people and public education did not begin with the current general assembly. Among Governor Matt Bevin’s first official acts were to significantly lower the minimum wage for new state workers and take away the opportunity to vote from tens of thousands of people. Bevin and GOP legislative leaders made it their priority in 2017 to lower wages for people subject to prevailing wage scales, weaken unions of working people through so-called right to work legislation, and open the door to charter schools in Kentucky.

Now we’ve seen a revenue bill (HB 366) pushed through the General Assembly that reflects an appalling abuse of power (following the equally offensive process with the pension bill last week) and shameful reshaping of our tax system. An analysis by the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy and the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy shows that HB 366 “is a huge tax cut for the wealthiest Kentuckians and a shift in reliance onto everyone else. As a share of their income the richest 1 percent of Kentuckians – who make on average $1,042,000 a year – will receive an average tax cut of $7,086 while the poorest 95 percent of Kentuckians will receive a tax increase. The biggest tax increase as a share of income will go to Kentuckians making less than $21,000 a year.”

While the perpetrators of these actions congratulate each other we recognize their actions as a failure of leadership. When unpopular and harmful legislation passes in secrecy and by the power of political manipulation then our democracy is damaged and the aspirations and participation of Kentuckians are ignored. This is not the leadership Kentuckians want or that will move our state forward.

The pension changes and budget cuts are just the latest step in their campaign. We can expect more of the same until we vote them out and elect leaders who share our values. That is why KFTC has elevated our Action for Democracy work (registering, educating and mobilizing voters) in 2018 and beyond. KFTC members know what a healthy democracy looks like, and we know that a tax system best serves our commonwealth when it is fair to all, adequate and sustainable. Standing together, we will create this Kentucky.

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