Rally held on Capitol steps to put education first

By Marisela Burgos - bio | email
Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - When lawmakers met on the first day of their special session to try to finalize a new state budget, the Kentucky Forward Rally took place on the steps of the Capitol encouraging lawmakers to listen to them before finalizing their budget.

The Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, the Kentucky Forward Coalition and several other agencies met May 24 to send a message to lawmakers that they want state representatives to support, what they called, a people's budget.

"Kentucky's current tax system is outdated and unjust," said Rev. Marian McClure Taylor with Kentucky Council Churches. "We would not be in this week's sad situation of making deep cuts if we had reformed taxes already."

The biggest argument made during the rally was a push to guarantee education is the number one priority.

"I tell you what. My priority and the priority of every legislator in this here building should be the people of Kentucky," said Kelly Gunning, co-director of the National Allegiance on Mental Issues in Lexington. "We cannot afford to be apathetic here. These are our children and our profession and our lives that we're talking about. Let's invest in what we know works and stop pay, pay, paying for what we know does not work."

"We need a state budget that puts our children first," said Brent McKim, president of the Jefferson County Teachers Association, who spoke during the rally. "We need a state budget that funds public education."

The Jefferson County school district has seen its fair share of changes. McKim spoke about his distaste for the state legislature's decisions, which he says included cutting crucial services important for staff to help students succeed.

"It's the legislator that's low performing, not the teachers," McKim said. "They're doing the best they can and they're denied what they need."

If JCPS has to move half of the teachers out of six schools which the state has identified as failing, McKim said the legislature deserves the same treatment.

"We out to move half the legislators. At least {the people} that are responsible for making these cuts," said McKim.

As lawmakers punch numbers for a final state budget, people hope state employees, students' education, and all public services are not on the line.

"We have high hopes the Kentucky legislature will not let us down," said K.A. Owens, chair of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.

The special session is scheduled to five days.

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