As Kentucky gubernatorial candidates scurry across the state in the final days before the May 22, 2007 primary, most of the issues and program proposals are essentially all about the state budget, the allocation of resources, how to stretch tax dollars, and how to generate funds for an effective state government.
In conjunction with the 2006 Kentucky General Assembly, a group of citizens gathered at Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro and devoted several hours to learn about state government financial challenges, to examine various proposals and options, and to deliberate with people representing different points of view.
The forum was conducted by the Public Life Foundation of Owensboro, a non-partisan foundation that fosters citizen participation in community decisions and public policy.
Following the presentation and small group discussion format, participants shared their perspective through a questionnaire. Most of Kentucky’s budget issues and financial challenges have not changed since that time. Consequently, the perspectives and recommendations of these citizens remain valid today.
We share with the candidates what a cross-section of citizens from Kentucky’s third largest city said about the state government finances:
Participants not a random sample, but reflected the community
The forum was a public meeting and all were welcomed. The 60 participants were generally better educated and more affluent than average Daviess Countians. Nonetheless, the forum attracted city and rural residents, minorities, business and union leaders, elected officials and civic leaders, nonprofit managers, educators and interested citizens – certainly a valid cross section of our community.
Better informed citizens
Participants were asked to come to judgment about budget issues and choices after having been briefed extensively and engaged in two structured discussions. This lends more credibility to the results than surveys and polls that call for instant responses from people who may or may not be informed.
Coming into the forum, only 29 percent of the participants said they were well-informed about state budget issues. Ninety percent reported that they were better informed as a result of the forum.
A fair and effective format
All but one participant reported that the material was balanced. All participants reported that the material was clear and understandable. All but one reported that the discussion format was effective. All but one recommended the forum to others.
One hundred percent said that it is important for citizens to express their views regarding the state budget.
Results were shared with the Daviess County legislative delegation, key leaders in Frankfort, local-state media and opinion leaders.
Two local legislators, Rep. Joe Bowen and Rep. Tommy Thompson, responded verbally and said they would take into consideration the input from citizens who participated in the forum.Gov. Ernie Fletcher also responded with the following letter:
February 13, 2006
“Thank you for contacting my office regarding the public forum held recently to discuss the state budget proposal. I appreciate your taking the time to make me aware of the issue briefs and other information gathered at the meeting.
“As we work to move Kentucky in the right direction, your input is welcome. Please feel free to contact me any time an issue is important to you.”
Link to the State Budget Issue Brief that was used in the forum:
“Saving the Executive Inn: What, if anything, should our community do?”
What, if anything, should our community do?
In our last issue, we examined possible community strategies relating to concerns over the future of the Executive Inn www.plfo.org/advocate/Volum_4_Issue_4/.
April 17, 2007
While you have so very much, the city still needs to be on the alert to clean up and paint up existing houses and businesses, to be aware of the need to run a strict zoning and planning board to keep the placement of homes and business compatible with each other,
The big deal is bringing in suitable corporations who can offer quality jobs to a work oriented, well educated populace. Without jobs, the death knell is quietly being sounded to maintaining the next generation of leaders.
But I have every confidence the good and wise people of Owensboro, who recognize problems in a timely manner, will solve this problem as they have in the past.
I wish all goodluck in this vital process.
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