Washington spending reckless, but Kentucky on sound footing
I was not surprised by the Herald-Leader's editorial on my State of the Commonwealth address. The editorial board may not see the danger of Washington's reckless spending, but I do and so do Kentucky families and businesses.
Almost every state in the union faced revenue shortfalls and an uncertain economic future. Other states responded by making drastic cuts to core services — like teachers and troopers — or by raising broad-based taxes, like Illinois' recent decision to raise its individual income tax 66 percent and its corporate income tax 46 percent.
In Kentucky, we took the road less traveled — slashing a billion dollars from our budget, reducing our executive branch to its smallest size in decades and blocking every attempt to raise broad-based taxes.
Taxes are not the answer. Neither is decimating our priorities — which is why I've responsibly protected our education funding formula, job-creation efforts and certain public safety programs from cuts.
And, frankly, it is hard to argue with the results: rising education rankings and an improved business climate, hundreds of companies announcing over $2 billion worth of planned investments, unemployment rates dropping in nearly two-thirds of our counties and state receipts up.
Difficult times are not over, and I will not be satisfied until every Kentuckian who needs a job has one. But because of aggressive job-creation efforts and fiscally responsible management, Kentucky is turning the corner, and we are doing so ahead of most other states. The steps we are taking today will ensure not only our short-term survival, but also prosperity for our children and grandchildren. While we are trying to recover from this recession I will not raise broad-based taxes and I will not let Kentucky become another California.
Gov. Steve Beshear
Pill mills are not pain clinics
I am compelled to respond to the Jan. 30 article on limiting "pain clinics" ("Counties take aim at pill mills"). Whereas any practitioner can declare that he practices pain management and operates a pain clinic, it is important to define our terms.
Pain management is a recognized sub-specialty of the American Board of Medical Specialties. To become board-certified requires a minimum of four years of specialized training after medical school and passage of a rigorous series of examinations.
Whereas board certification does not guarantee competence in managing pain and competence in managing pain does not require board certification, these pill mills inappropriately referred to as pain clinics are a disgrace to the specialty and a danger to society.
The second issue has to do with the issue of pain pills. What the article is clearly referring to is a class of drugs known as opioids (OxyContin, Lortab, morphine, etc.).
Whereas drugs of this class may be useful in the treatment of acute pain due to injury, and in the treatment of pain due to terminal disease, their use in treating chronic, non-terminal pain remains highly controversial.
Opioids are not an essential part of modern pain management. Many physicians treat pain very effectively without using opioids at all. In Lexington, the Cardinal Hill Pain Institute utilizes this approach with excellent results.
William O. Witt, M.D.
Medical director, Cardinal Hill Pain institute
Lexington visit appreciated
May I say how well I was treated by everyone with whom I came in contact in your charming city of Lexington. Even the reporters and photographers, whose job it was to get the right story and picture, were courteous and polite. We all understood they were just doing their jobs.
To the jury who had to endure three long days of testimony, I thank you. You were professional and, after the dismissal, very gracious.
My lawyers, Tom Miller and Mike Meuser, were top notch and, of course, presented my case from a place of extensive research and truth that allowed for Judge James D. Ishmael Jr. to dismiss it, as he said, "only the second time in my career I have dismissed a case."
He was thoughtful and ethical, very clear in instructing the jury that celebrity should not enter into their decision-making, that this was a case like any other case. I deeply appreciated his professional demeanor.
You live in a beautiful part of our country and I look forward to coming back again to spread my message of good health and successful aging without drugs. It was wonderful to see our justice system at work, and I must say I was very happy to have been vindicated.
You are lovely, your city is lovely and I thank all of you.
Cruelty to dogs
Kentucky native Tim Thompson wrote in a Jan. 16 column that he will not be leaving South Korea. He writes he is at home and seems to be enthralled with the Korean people. Then I hope he stays.
He writes that some foreigners complain about Koreans eating dog meat. The Koreans might say: "Look at you Americans, you eat cows and pigs. Why are dogs any better?" A valid point, maybe.
What Thompson doesn't write about is how the dogs are killed. They are hung by their back legs while alive and then slowly beaten to death. The thought is that the adrenalin released by the induced fear makes the meat taste better. Some also think it is a natural version of Viagra.
Korean farmers think so little of non-human animals they recently killed 1 million hogs by pushing them in ditches and burying them alive. The screams of terror must have been astonishing. The government approved of the mass burials.
Any national animal welfare group will confirm what I've written.
Invest in infrastructure
In Kentucky, we're no strangers to decaying infrastructure.
In Louisville, the Kennedy Bridge and Spaghetti Junction have been declared the 11th worst bottleneck in the nation. In Northern Kentucky, the Brent Spence Bridge, which carries the traffic of I-75 and I-71, has been declared "functionally obsolete."
Last year, two gates at two locks on the Ohio River simply collapsed, causing delays in barge shipments during the 2010 winter.
While Kentucky is home to a vibrant manufacturing business community, current economic conditions have made it difficult to thrive. Unemployment in the manufacturing sector increased by nearly 5.5 percent over the past decade, leaving Kentucky's rates higher than the national average.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, for every $1 billion spent on infrastructure, 30,000 new jobs are created.
Despite this, in the 2009 stimulus package, only 3 percent of funds were set aside to rebuild highways, roads and bridges. We are spending 40 percent less than recommended to upgrade surface transportation nationwide.
The Obama administration and our senators and congressmen should work together and pass a multiyear surface transportation authorization, as well as enact a multiyear federal aviation authorization to modernize commercial and general aviation airports.
Legislation that would encourage rail companies to invest in highly efficient locomotives and improve the quality of tracks also deserves to become law.
Legislation to accelerate the construction and reconstruction of locks and dams enjoys bipartisan support.
Rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure will create family-wage jobs and increase competitiveness in Kentucky and across our nation.
President, Kentuckians for Better Transportation
The arts enrich lives
I read with interest your page on Jan. 27 devoted to the debate over the Tiger Mother and the pursuit of academic excellence.
It takes only the Tiger Mother forbidding her children to participate in plays for us to know hers is the wrong path.
Shakespeare (and other theater, including school plays and our own nationally acclaimed Lexington Children's Theater) has been the richest part of my daughters' education, and my own. We should all beware the person who "loves no plays" and "hears no music" (Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene 2).
Ruling reinforces that health care is no right
I am heartened by U.S. Judge Roger Vinson's ruling that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is unconstitutional.
I have downloaded the full text of the judge's ruling so I may study this historic document in more detail. It should become a law school case study regardless of the final outcome of the issue.
Health care is not a right but an extension of personal responsibility. The destitute will be cared for; the U.S. poor not necessarily so. Emergency care will be provided, but not necessarily for free.
Equating health insurance with automobile insurance is a red herring. At the end of the day, we all pay for others' mistakes as they pay for ours — such is the small price we pay for liberty given to us by our founders, many of whom lost their lives and fortunes but not their sacred honor in their endeavor.
There are options such as the competition of buying health insurance over state lines, addressing state mandates and reducing tort costs, which are superior. The sticking point of pre-existing conditions probably needs a government-assisted solution.