My friends and fellow Kentuckians, I am announcing today that I am not running for governor in 2015. This will be a big disappointment to none of you.
Since I am not going to be a candidate I will not need my platform. I therefore offer it free of charge to any and all of those good men and women who are interested in being the state's chief executive.
This platform draws from the best ideas of conservatives, liberals, libertarians, and perhaps even progressives. Regular readers will recognize some of my favorite reform hobby horses.
It is designed to boldly transform Kentucky by helping its citizens become healthier, wealthier, and wiser. It envisions a commonwealth to which others will want to come, stay, start businesses, create jobs, and raise children.
Priority one is pro-growth tax reform that moves the state toward, if not to, taxation of consumption instead of income. Our tax system must be made more attractive to business, entrepreneurs, and investors than that of any of our surrounding states.
Pension reform is the second priority. As painful as it will be, we must finally and fully face up to our staggering unfunded pension liabilities.
Transform public pensions to defined contribution programs like in the private sector. It may be necessary to impose a dedicated temporary tax surcharge to stabilize the systems and contribute toward transition costs. Consider a court challenge to the supposedly "inviolable contract."
Reform and professionalize the administration and management of the pension systems. Impose near total transparency.
Next, pass several measures to make the state more economically competitive. This means passing a right to work law and repealing the prevailing wage law that pointlessly makes public projects more expensive.
Let lawsuit winners recover their attorney fees from the losers. Repeal or judicially change constitutional provisions preventing tort reform.
Put an expanded gambling constitutional amendment on the ballot that dedicates proceeds to education and the horse industry. Casinos create social costs, so confine new gambling venues to existing racetracks and a very few other places.
Allow public charter schools, at least for persistently low-achieving schools. Abolish or drastically reform teacher tenure, permit more performance-based pay, and do whatever it takes to be the first state to completely replace textbooks with tablets for all public school students.
Stop Medicaid recipients from buying alcohol, lottery tickets, or tobacco products. Provide tax incentives for good health habits. Penalize, stigmatize, and incentivize treatment of obesity and smoking. Pass a statewide ban on smoking in public places.
Reform state marijuana laws to reflect the nation's new reality. This does not necessarily mean outright legalization and commercial sales, but it does mean at least some sort of de-criminalization.
There is revenue potential in cannabis for the state and some of its most impoverished regions. Perhaps those now seeking more dangerous highs in heroin, meth, and pain pills might settle for a less addictive and dangerous drug.
Change the filing deadline for the state legislature from January to April so citizens can base decisions about whether to seek a seat in the General Assembly on the most recent performance of their representatives and senators. Change the constitutional requirement that gubernatorial candidates select running mates before the primaries so winners can at least consider defeated rivals as prospective lieutenant governors.
Raise the campaign contribution limits for state races. Kentucky's current campaign finance system does little, if anything, to prevent corruption, but gives wealthy, self-funding candidates a big advantage.
Reform redistricting. Democrats have abused it for decades and without change Republicans may soon do likewise.
Repeal the state's constitutional ban on same sex marriage, and pass a law providing for marriage equality. Federal courts are already doing this by judicial decree, but for myriad reasons it is much better to do it by state legislative action.
Abolish the death penalty. It costs too much, is not an effective deterrent, and risks wrongful executions.
Move the Jefferson Davis statue from the Capitol rotunda to the Kentucky Military History Museum or another appropriate site. Replace it with one of someone more inclusive and representative of our modern state. Be more attentive to such things in the state's emblems, holidays, and symbols, too.
Toughen the state's littering laws and give police a financial incentive to better enforce them. Enact a bottle bill. Put more limits on unsightly billboards that too often blight our beautiful roadsides.
That's my platform â ¦ for the first term, anyway. Here's hoping those who run for governor will be as ambitious, comprehensive, and specific.
John David Dyche is a Louisville attorney and a political commentator for WDRB.com.
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