Educators and state workers make voices heard at Capitol

05/24/2010 06:39 PM

(UPDATED WITH VIDEO) FRANKFORT —With chants of “We are Kentucky” and “Fund our schools” those likely to be the most affected by the next state budget took to the Capitol steps on a hot Monday afternoon to voice their concerns.

Educators and state workers marched around the Capitol on Monday.

Teachers, state workers and advocacy group Kentuckians for the Commonwealth argued against cuts in education and state worker benefits in the proposed budget on the first day of the special session. After an hour-long rally, they marched around the Capitol, while several pulled aside any lawmakers they could find to make their case.

In the current proposal, the benefits of state workers and teachers would be cut 3.5 percent this year and 4.5 percent next year. The budget would also require school districts to pay for one instructional day out of emergency funds.

The group of almost 100 also lobbied for tax reform, no cuts in education and no furloughs.

“Furloughs are not the answer,” Glenda Freeman, a state worker from Louisville who spoke on behalf of the state workers’ union, said to the crowd.

Freeman said the legislature needed to stop looking to reductions in public services as the first thing to cut when balancing a budget.

“We want to see a state budget that adequately funds public services,” Freeman said.

Trischel House, a kindergarten teacher from Russell Independent School District, also asked legislators to stop cutting services, including education. Upset with the idea of cutting school days or having schools districts fund days, House wondered what changed from the expanded education push years ago.

“If it was good for kids two years ago why is it not good to fund those days now?” House said.

Admitting there may be no easy solutions to funding a state budget right now, House asked the legislature to find a way to stop the cuts.

“They need to make really hard choices and find the money,” she said.

—Kenny Colston with video produced by Don Weber

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