There is no perfectly sized government, but less is better.
The Declaration of Independence boldly states, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness -- That to secure these right, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the government." The purpose of our government is to protect the inalienable rights of individuals granted by the authority of our Creator. By the consent of individuals the federal and Kentucky constitutions establish a structure of checks, balances and conflicts of power within the government to limit its ability to change from protector to captor. Each expansion of government results in a decrease of individual liberties. The goal is a government that serves sufficiently, effectively, efficiently, and no further.
The Commonwealth of Kentucky must live within its means. Although Kentucky is a "balanced budget" state by legal requirement, real annual deficits continued into the mid-2010’s and our overall debt continued to rise. The budget was being "balanced" with accounting maneuvers which work on paper but fail in realty, and the credit rating of Kentucky fell.
Balancing the budget requires either that revenues (taxes, fees, etc.) increase, or expenses decrease, or a measure of both. Kentuckians individually already are taxed significantly and subjected to numerous fees, but revenue can increase. When Kentuckians start businesses, when businesses locate in Kentucky, and when Kentucky businesses expand, more Kentuckians earn a wage and tax revenues increase. Kentucky can create a better climate for job creation by passing legislation addressing its enormous pension debt, making Kentucky a "right to work" state and putting its financial house in order. When Kentucky fully enforces its existing tax code, property taxes and lien system, revenue will increase significantly without creating one new tax.
Further, spending must be decreased, especially in the immediate future. The Commonwealth has decreased spending over recent years, but spending must be at the highest level of prioritization and efficiency. Operating in excess of revenue places a debt burden upon the Commonwealth's children and grandchildren. Families live within their means to support one another, not place debt upon future generations. The Commonwealth must do the same by prioritizing each expense. Spending must be absolutely essential for immediate purposes or long-term investment. Each prioritized expense must then be examined for inefficiency and waste.
Public Pension Debt
The Commonwealth must secure its promise to state retirees.
The extent of Kentucky's public pension debt is the topic of many national studies and financial reviews. Kentucky's defined benefit system promises that certain benefits will be paid to those retiring from public service, and that promise must be kept. However, the combination of ill designed systems with the failure to pay in enough money over an extended period of time has resulted in an unfunded pension liability in the tens of billions of dollars. Kentucky first must continue its transition from defined benefits plans to defined contribution benefits to correct systemic flaws and require Kentucky to deposit funds in an individual's retirement on a current basis, rather than a promise to do so later. Kentucky's pension debt has been a major contributing factor to decreased credit ratings. Addressing the pension debt will make good on the promise to retirees, increase credit ratings, and give certainty to prospective employers that Kentucky has its finances in order and that it is ready for business.
Convention of States
A convention of states should be called to require that the federal government balance its budget.
Kentuckians should lend their collective support for a convention of states called for the purpose of proposing an amendment to the United States Constitution which would require balanced budgets at the federal level. Federal authorities have shown no intent to balance budgets, even as congressman and senators are replaced over time. Public conversations now do not even entertain the notion of cutting spending to pay for priority issues. Federal deficits and debt are existential threats to the United States for which there is no other feasible manner of addressing, except the consideration of a balanced budget amendment via a convention of states.
Education is the tool by which future generations will govern themselves.
Kentucky cannot fail to educate those that will be leading and guiding our future. While Kentucky has taken seriously the need for better elementary and high school education and completion of high school, the economy of today demands education after high school. Professional services, skilled labor, technical vocations and agricultural businesses all require additional education. Kentucky must make a high priority of facilitating the entry into and completion of educational and technical training after high school.
Right to Life
The fundamental right to life protects the born and unborn.
Human life begins in the womb, and the fundamental right to life applies. While there is no civil right that is absolute and without exception, the right to life is fundamental and should be treated with utmost priority.
The First Amend right to religious liberty requires vigilant protection.
There is a no more sacred right than the right to hold and practice a religious belief of conscience. While Kentucky affords some protection, existing laws must be comprehensively examined and strengthened, especially in light of recent federal judicial rulings and actions by the executive branches. As actors in the federal and state governments quieten the voices of Kentuckians, laws must be strengthened to ensure that the religious voice of each individual is not limited to only home and church, but rather remains available in all private and public spheres of life.
The right secured by the Second Amendment is vital and should not be infringed. Kentucky should strengthen the legal right of the individual to own and bear arms, whether for recreational purposes or personal security. Jason will oppose any additional restriction on the sale, use or possession of firearms or ammunition.
Transparency is an essential ingredient to a greater Commonwealth. Jason will support legislation for additional transparency in the legislative, executive and judicial branches of the Commonwealth. Kentucky has made progress in opening up the doors and windows of the government so that Kentuckians can see how decisions are made and money spent, but not enough. Except for narrowly tailored exceptions, we must seek to open every remaining door and window.