State of affairs
By John Butwell

Earlier this week, thousands of Kentucky's teachers converged on Frankfort. They arrived by the busload, and the speeches they made were full of fiery passion for the importance of education, and teary compassion for the children being educated. State legislators: are you listening? Taking notes? There will be a pop quiz in November, at election time.

Your governor has proposed some major changes in our state's tax system which you need to study. There are two which you should pass:

· An increase in the state's almost non-existent cigarette tax, from 3 cents a pack to "at least" 40 cents, and....

· Taxing pensions as income, so a person making $40,000 a year in pensions (which weren't taxed as they were built up) won't be excluded from taxes which a person making $40,000 in wages must pay.

Even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then. Gov. Patton is no pig. But he's groping blindly for solutions to a problem which is beyond his grasp, because he has no power to make you legislators actually pass the tax reforms which our state desperately needs. Since he must make his suggestions "play in Peoria"-i.e., Frankfort-he has come up with some real dillies:

· A tax on business activity, not income, which would make our state's businesses pay taxes on their costs as well as their profits.

· A tax on certain services (but not all of them), such as dry cleaning, but not the politically powerful professions of lawyering, doctoring, and selling newspaper advertising.

· Repeal of the state's vehicle taxes, which would miss the point that we need lots more tax revenue, but might sweeten the passage of his other proposals by including a "tax cut."

None of the above are likely to pass, but the last three are signs of desperation on Paul Patton's part. He is stuck with the unhappy fact that, as he told the assembled General Assembly: "There is no doubt that you can adjourn without addressing the problem. There is no doubt you can pass a fictitious budget."

I'd urge him to push for massive revision of the state's income tax code so the wealthy and corporations actually pay taxes commensurate with their holdings and earnings, while the working poor are allowed to continue struggling to support themselves on a daily basis without also having to support the government.

His proposed tax on services is inconsistent with this goal. Everyone already pays a 6 percent sales tax on everything we buy, except groceries. That makes sure everyone pays at least some part of supporting the government services we all receive, and that's enough.

But massive, actual reform of the state's income tax code would also accomplish Patton's stated goal of closing "the biggest loophole of all, the loophole that permits huge multi-national corporations to operate in Kentucky while paying practically no taxes to pay for the government services they use every day."

Patton says he sees no problem with corporations taking advantage of loopholes passed by the legislature; in particular with the Lexington Herald-Leader reorganizing as a "limited liability corporation" while it's owned by the huge media conglomerate Knight Ridder.

In comments which bring to mind our late ex-Gov. Wally Wilkinson (who said every citizen has a "responsibility" to avoid as many taxes as possible), Patton places the blame for such evasions on you folks who write the laws. "We have created these laws; we have every right to expect our corporate citizens to use them," he says.

Well, maybe. But when the "corporate citizen" is a newspaper which presumes to preach correct conduct to the rest of us, I think it takes a lot of gall to stiff us on the bill. So by all means, close the loophole! But REALLY close it, which of course you legislators will not do.

Unless, unlessyou legislators actually hear the mounting pressure for you to DO your jobs and DO something about our state's financial crisis-as well as the serious threat the crisis represents to our children, their educations, and our state's future.

It's a test, and it's open-book. Everyone is watching. Our teachers are gathering to give us all a mass lesson, but especially you. Back in 1990, we thought you had learned your lesson. Try, try again-harder, this time.

Ace periodically publishes guest opinions. Submissions of 700 words or less may be submitted to Guest opinions do not necessarily reflect the editorial views of Ace. They might, they might not.


Downtown going down?

With the completion of the Lexington Center dependent on funding available in the upcoming budget, a grass roots campaign is trying to create support for the issues facing downtown and the community at large, as well as the implications to the state in terms of lost revenue.

To raise awareness, the Downtown Lexington Corporation is asking citizens to contact legislators from across the state via telephone calls, letters, and email with support for the completion of the Lexington Center.

War no more

Wednesday February 12, central Kentuckians will protest the impending war on Iraq by lining the streets of Lexington. Protesters will carry signs and candles calling for peace. Protesters will assemble in Lexington's Triangle Park and spread out from there.

The central Kentucky demonstration is in solidarity with the planet-wide demonstrations around the theme "The World Says No To War," that will be taking place on February 15 and 16th in major cities around the world. United for Peace is organizing massive anti-war protests in New York City on Feb. 15 and San Francisco on Feb. 16. These demonstrations are part of a world-wide day of opposition to war against Iraq.

The rally is sponsored by two organizations. P.E.A.C.E. (People Everywhere Are Created Equal), a group of central Kentuckians dedicated to seeking peaceful solutions to conflicts in the Middle East, and the Central KY Council for Peace & Justice, a coalition of over 25 organizations and over 300 individuals dedicated to working for social justice and nonviolent solutions to conflict. For more information on CKCPJ, check their website at

State fleet depleted

Gov. Paul Patton has ordered The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to auction off 500 state vehicles next week in Frankfort, to reduce the state's motor pool.

On the block will be Ford Tauruses, Crown Victorians, Chevy Tahoes, vans, and pickup trucks.

The money from the auction will help free up some cash, as a result of the expected budget shortfall.

Kentucky is expected to be about $400 million short in revenue in 2004.

Last December, about 10 percent of the entire state fleet was auctioned off, and cut administrative costs by $30 million.

Half of the cars will be auctioned at 10 a.m. Thursday, February 13. An additional 250 vehicles will be auctioned about a month later.

For information, call fleet management at the Transportation Cabinet at (502) 564-2260.

Object D'art

Often, a performer will draw on their life experience, mining its content for presentation to an audience. Usually, the artist or entertainer will find inspiration by reflection on a situation into which they've been thrust. With Matthew Weddington, the performance is a mix both of the chronicling of life's travails and the presentation of self-imposed distress. However, with the patience of a 3rd grader raised on MTV and sugary cereals, if he doesn't find himself surrounded by disappointment, heartache or despair, Weddington will find a way to create bad luck for himself-all for the entertainment of his audience.

On Friday, February 14th, Weddington, currently studying at the Chicago Institute of Art, will give a presentation about his current, future, and past projects.

University of Kentucky, Room 118, Classroom Building, 12:00 - 12:50pm.

-M. Brotherton

Is your heart as big as a manatee?

In case you don't think you can afford a bachelor on Thursday, and still want to help the animals, you can still give back this Valentine's Day by adopting a manatee. That's right, a manatee, a.k.a. a sea cow. For just $20 you can adopt a manatee for Valentine's Day. When asked by your loved one if you're implying they're getting as big as a manatee, do NOT answer.

Plan B

The Division of Environmental and Emergency Management, along with the American Red Cross and the Greater Lexington Chamber, is holding a workshop entitled, Workplace Violence and Terrorism, for businesses and the government. The workshop will help in implementing contingency and operations plans for acts of workplace violence and terrorism. The deadline for registration is Monday, February 17. For more information about the workshop, or to register, call 425-2494.

To submit an advocacy/activism activity or event for Quickies, email, or