Government must create an economic environment in which individuals and businesses can innovate, grow, and prosper. While this commonsense notion should go without saying, the fact is that Kentucky has willfully failed to develop and nurture such an environment. As a result, Kentucky is very often passed over by business interests looking to expand or relocate. Even more painful is the fact that we most often lose to neighboring states and other states in the southeastern United States. In other words, Kentucky is often in the race, but all too often is fatally burdened by years of arctic legislative agendas that have resulted in an environment which is hostile to business. While perhaps good for the bureaucracy, our current economic construct is devastating to the citizens of the Commonwealth. Our failures are disappointing and unnecessary, however, they are not difficult to understand. Our leaders have consistently failed to enact basic legal reforms need to for stainable growth and prosperity, while the states we compete with have taken thoughtful steps to ensure an environment ripe for economic development.
We can and must do better. As Kentuckians we are bold and competitive by nature. We must harness that sprint and demand fundamental reforms for our great Commonwealth. If we do, winning the economic development game will become just like winning on the basketball court -- second nature.
Others will not invest in Kentucky until we take the necessary collective action to invest in ourselves. In short, to do this will require the enactment of laws that ensure that Kentucky's economic environment:
*is based on an economically sound and fiscally responsible tax structure under which hard work, savings, and investment are rewarded, not penalized;
*is protected from the uncontrolled growth of government by limiting the state's ability to generate debt, forcing it to address unfunded liabilities, and requiring it to limit spending to the essential and fundamental roles of government;
*is supported by a state-of-the-art educational system that is developed using evidence-based practices and founded on the principles of innovation, accountability, competition, choice, and measurable outcomes.
*is free from frivolous regulations and lawsuits by scrutinizing regulations for effectiveness and efficiency and by passing a comprehensive tort reform;
*is void of impediments to open labor markets and enhancing workforce flexibility for employers by revising prevailing wage laws, enacting right-to-work legislation, and limiting public employee collective bargaining to our law enforcement officers and firefighters;
*is aggressive and unwavering in its support of Kentucky rooted industries, such as coal, equine, and distilling by incentivizing such industries in a manner that allows them to compete on a level playing field.
Accomplishing these reforms will not be easy. History tells us that the old guard will look to protect the status quo. However, the fact is that if successfully implemented, the actions outlined above will increase public safety, decrease dependence on government, and allow all Kentuckians to enjoy healthier, more productive, prosperous, and independent lives. If we are willing to do the hard work, we will be successful. I hope you join in my confidence in Kentucky's ability to quickly emerge as a national leader in economic development.