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Volume 4 Issue 5

Public Life Update - April 2007











Candidates for Governor: Listen to Daviess Countians

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:

  • 60 percent said that state government has a revenue problem
  • 40 percent said that state government has a spending problem
  • 58 percent said cut the bureaucracy
  • 83 percent said increase the cigarette tax
  • 50 percent said increase taxes on services
  • 64 percent said increase taxes on the wealthy
  • 57 percent said increase corporate net profits taxes
  • 67 percent said eliminate loopholes and exemptions
  • 46 percent said no to expanded gaming
  • 61 percent said the public should be allowed to vote on gaming
  • 93 percent said that the "no new tax" pledge signed by 50 legislators is an irresponsible act that could result in state government having inadequate resources for education and vital government services
  • 7 percent said that the "no new tax" pledge was a responsible action that sends an important message about excessive taxation
  • 69 percent said that tax modernization should generate additional revenue rather than no new revenue

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.

Leaders respond

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:


Saving the Executive Inn:

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/.





Other articles and issue briefs published in the Public Life Advocate on  downtown/community development issues and challenges:

Ten keys to an energized downtown
Big dreams, big decisions
What will work along the riverfront?
Maximizing riverfront development: What is the best strategy?
What should county government do with its downtown property?


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