State should tackle Medicaid and prisons - then taxes - to save education, lawmaker says

12/13/2010 06:41 AM

With Kentucky looking to spend an increasing amount of money on Medicaid, state worker benefits and prisons, the legislature should retool those programs first before structuring how the state collects revenue, said Rep. Scott Brinkman, R-Louisville.

“Those rates of growth far outgrow the rates of growth in the economy,” he said on Pure Politics on Friday. “So even if you enacted some kind of additional tax increase that generated another $500 million a year for the state, in theory you would have balanced the budget … for say one day.”

But then those programs would continue soaking up a greater proportion of that money, he said.

Brinkman, who is ending his 10 years in the state House this month after not seeking re-election, said he believes task forces that have formed to study complex problems are becoming increasingly effective.

Two currently are trying to tackle two complex — and expensive — problems facing Kentucky: the state’s corrections system/penal code and the $6 billion-plus Medicaid program.

The ultimate goal, he said, should be to get the state in a position to pump more resources into education. He said that is the single biggest driver in the increasing income disparity in the country.

“There’s an education disparity. You have schools in Kentucky where the kids are graduating with a very solid education — both public and private schools, But then you have a series of schools where the children basically are functionally dropping out in the middle years — they’re still in school but they’ve for whatever reason given up and they’re basically pushed through the system … and those students have no chance,” he said.

To combat that, he said, takes resources for additional programs, to allow for smaller class sizes and additional reading and math assistance.

Here’s his interview on Pure Politics about how the state’s leaders should lead on those issues:

- Ryan Alessi


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