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Herald-Leader: What we’re doing as a state isn’t working

February 5, 2010

The Lexington Herald-Leader‘s editorial board has a pretty harsh, but accurate, assessment of what has kept Kentucky from moving forward during the last decade.

As the board’s editorial today notes, after modest gains in the late ’90s and the early part of last decade, Kentucky has failed to move forward economically. The board places the blame for the lack of progress on the officials elected to lead this state.

Looking at the politically fueled debates and inability to find consensus in Frankfort makes it hard to dispute the claim levied in the editorial –

Kentucky’s economic problems are complicated. One conclusion is not: Kentucky is falling behind because its leaders have failed to deliver. The state remains mired in parochial pork-barrel politics, urban-rural feuds and petty corruption and patronage. In Frankfort, we’ve witnessed a decade of partisan backbiting. Rather than grow a knowledge-based economy, Kentucky built empty industrial parks and handed out tax breaks to lure businesses that stayed until they could find a cheaper place to relocate.

The legislature and governors from both parties have failed to come to grips with fundamental problems such as an obsolete tax structure.

The editorial goes on to note the failings of Kentucky’s higher education institutions, and the fact the state is just now getting around to providing a seamless transition between community colleges and four-year schools.

At Thursday’s Rooster Booster breakfast in Owensboro, Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. president Nick Brake said that the economic future looks bright for this community. Reading this editorial makes one question whether any of that optimism should extend to the state as a whole.

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