OP-ED By House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover
FRANKFORT, Ky. (December 8, 2014) - This past week 24/7 Wall St., a financial news and opinion website released their annual rankings of The Best and Worst Run States in America.
It is regrettable to see that over the course of this past year, Kentucky has slipped further in their rankings. In 2013, the website listed Kentucky as the 13th worst run state in the nation. Currently, they now view us as the fifth worst.
When you look at the methodology 24/7 Wall Street used to compare the states, you find that Kentucky has the 23rd highest debt per capita, the seventh highest unemployment rate, the fifth lowest median household income and the sixth highest poverty rate. They added that at 17 percent, we have nearly the highest level of food stamp usage and our high school and college graduation rates are near the lowest in the nation. Not a single one of these statistics are anything of which we should be proud.
However, when you compare those same statistics to 2013, what becomes apparent is that the numbers have not changed much and, in fact, some have actually improved. Yet, we find ourselves slipping eight places when compared to our sister states. How is this possible?
As I said repeatedly on the campaign trail these past few months, there are many things Kentucky does well and there are many we do poorly. However, perhaps our biggest problem is that many seem to be satisfied with the status quo. This was clearly evident in the actions of Speaker Greg Stumbo and the House Democrat leadership over the past several sessions of the General Assembly. Last year, for example, not only did they fail to pass meaningful, job-creating legislation such as public-private partnerships and increasing broadband access, but legislation that would simply study the increasingly concerning issue of providing solvency for the Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System was not even given a hearing.
Our Commonwealth is plagued by stagnation, much stemming from the fact that Speaker Greg Stumbo has been more interested in partisan political gamesmanship than allowing the legislature to take bold initiative in addressing these issues. And while we are stagnant, our sisters states continue to make advances, causing Kentucky to slip further down the list.
Should this be concerning? After all, do rankings really amount for much? I believe they do. It's very much the same as college recruitment, whether in academics or athletics, rankings help attract the best. States that have shown themselves to be excelling will have the easiest time in attracting new industries, allowing current ones to expand and to generally improve the quality of life for the people residing there. That leads us to be able to draw our own conclusions about those of us not at the top of the list.
As we approach the 2015 General Assembly, I would encourage each of you to contact your legislators and demand they put the people of Kentucky first and set the partisanship aside.
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Representative Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, serves as the House Republican Floor Leader in the Kentucky House of Representatives and is the longest serving House Republican Floor Leader in the Commonwealth's history. Representative Hoover serves the 83rd District, which is comprised of Russell, Clinton, Cumberland, and part of Pulaski County.