By Sharron Oxedine and K.A. Owens
for Kentucky Forward Coalition

A couple of weeks ago, as families and businesses were trying to recover from the destruction from the floods across the state, thousands of us pulled together. We sandbagged, rescued, washed, dried, moved, fed, housed, clothed and hugged each other until we were all safely through the storms. That is who we are. Kentucky is a beautiful place to call home because we take care of our friends and neighbors, knowing that we’re all in this together.

When our legislators meet in Frankfort this week, their job is to develop a decent budget, one that allows our communities to get important work done that we can’t accomplish as individuals. We created public school systems to provide opportunity, public health systems to keep ourselves well, and environmental and public safety systems to protect our air, water, and people. For these to function -- and to support our quality of life and our economy -- these systems need adequate, stable investments of our public dollars.

The Kentucky Forward Coalition -- a coalition of education and health advocates and faith, labor, and community groups -- is working for tax reforms that would generate the money for investments that reflect Kentucky’s values, improving our quality of life. Many of us see first-hand how the chronic underfunding of our schools and community health services is damaging our Commonwealth. We teach the students who slip behind because of cuts to after-school programs and swollen class sizes; we console the families of people on waiting lists for treatment for mental illness; we work to keep children safe while coping with a severe shortage of resources; and we are the people who wonder why Kentucky couldn’t be among the top in quality of life indicators, instead of always stuck at the bottom. Kentucky deserves better.

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