FRANKFORT, Ky. (WHAS11) -- They came to Kentucky's Capitol with hundreds of people, dozens of causes and a call for action in the name of children.
"We want more than rhetoric around kids," said Terry Brooks, Executive Director of Kentucky Youth Advocates. "We want reality."
The 10th annual Children’s Advocacy Day at the Capitol challenged Kentucky's elected leaders to "fund kids first in the next two year state budget and support the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children," a shared agenda for the disparate causes.
The agenda includes legislation on smoking, child abuse, air quality, supporting people who are raising their grandchildren, juvenile justice, a state Earned Income Credit, and increased government funding for child care.
"We want to lift the freeze on new applications, reverse last year's budget cuts and fully fund C-Cap," Adrienne Bush of Hazard Perry County Community Ministries told a child advocate rally. "Increase eligibility to 200 percent of the poverty line."
Governor Steve Beshear (D) has signaled his budget proposal will seek to restore education funding after previous cuts.
"It is very, very myopic to think that only supporting K-12 is supporting kids," Brooks said. "It assumes that kids come to school in sort of an isolated way. You can't begin to talk about progress in schools without talking about economic well being of families."
"We do not have enough money to fund these important programs that are being proposed here today," said Rep. Jim Wayne (D-Louisville). "The money's just not there."
Also Thursday, Wayne introduced a tax reform plan to address the budget shortfall.
"Not everything they asked for involves revenue from the state," said Sen. Morgan McGarvey (D-Louisville). "Some of the changes they are advocating here are for a healthier Kentucky that don't require money."
"And while not all of them may happen in this legislative session, we should begin pushing now to make sure we get the change we want," McGarvey added.
The child advocates also met with Governor Steve Beshear on Thursday ahead of his budget address next Tuesday where the hard realities of Kentucky's tight budget will likely again reveal themselves.