Gov. Steve Beshear (D-KY) delivering the 2013 State of the Commonwealth address (Source: KET).
FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - Tax reform and pension reform were the things Gov. Steve Beshear wanted to talk about Wednesday night as he made his State of the Commonwealth address.
Those topics came as no surprise to lawmakers because the governor has hinted for a while that he wanted to talk about them and Beshear said they can't be separated.
Beshear told the joint session of the Kentucky Legislature that a tax reform package would create new money desperately needed for the state's pension system and for education programs that have been hurt in major budget cuts.
The reason, said Beshear, the pension system has taken financial hits in the past is simply because the state has insufficient revenues.
"It would have required us to gut our most fundamental priorities, K-12 education, public safety and job creation," said Beshear. "I refuse to do it and previous legislatures agreed with me and I refuse to do it in the years ahead as we work to make our public pension system whole again. I will not allow our school children to be collateral damage."
Beshear didn't talk about the controversial issue of casino gaming. It's something that has been a divisive issue and it just isn't something that would likely get accomplished with tax and pension reform ahead of it.
The governor said he's realistic. They're already six days into the session and there's not a lot of time left, but Beshear said it needs to happen this year possibly with a special session.
In response, Rep. Jeff Hoover, the House Republican Floor Leader, said he was disappointed in the speech overall. Hoover said he expected the Beshear to have specific recommendations to solve the tax and pension problems, but he didn't hear that in the governor's address.
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