The Republican gubernatorial ticket of Senate President David Williams and Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer plan to file their campaign papers at the Secretary of State’s office on Tuesday.
Since announcing their ticket in September, Williams and Farmer report raising $753,000 for the campaign, two-thirds of it at one colossal fundraiser in Lexington.
With a year head start, incumbent Democrat Steve Behear and running mate Jerry Abramson have raised about $3.5 million.
Republican Phil Moffett trails far behind both other campaigns with about $50,000 raised.
Williams has enjoyed the spotlight in recent weeks as he pushed through much of a legislative agenda:
David Williams and Senate Republicans Announce Agenda for 2011 Session
Serious government, pension & education reform, overhauling KY’s tax code top the list
(Frankfort) Senate President David Williams and the 23 members of the Republican caucus have announced their agenda for the upcoming session of the General Assembly. The legislation deals with a wide range of serious issues, including pension reform, the tax code, government transparency and reform, and state sovereignty.
“This is an agenda rooted in conservative values designed to improve our state. We will move on it quickly and make the upcoming session of the legislature productive on behalf of the people of Kentucky,” Williams said. “I am proud to serve with so many committed conservatives who have serious ideas to move Kentucky forward.”
SENATE REPUBLICAN “AGENDA FOR PROSPERITY”
• Neighborhood Schools and Voluntary Charter Schools. Williams and Sen. Dan Seum will sponsor legislation allowing children to attend neighborhood schools, which is especially important in Jefferson County. The legislation will also create voluntary charter schools in Kentucky to give parents, teachers, and local communities more options when deciding how best to educate students within the public school system. Kentucky lost out on millions of dollars in federal funding in 2010 because Gov. Steve Beshear failed to stand up to the teachers’ union that killed charter school legislation which had already passed the State Senate.
• Reforming Kentucky’s Anti-Growth Tax Code. Senate Republicans seek to get the ball rolling on meaningful tax reform by creating a commission made up of experts (economists, CPA’s, business leaders) who are charged with writing a new tax code that creates jobs and prosperity for Kentuckians. Sen. Williams believes our tax code is anti-growth and that other states have tax systems that make them more competitive. Williams believes Kentucky taxes productivity more than consumption and that such a system restrains job growth. This commission will write a new tax code and send it to the General Assembly by the end of 2011 that must be voted on up-or-down without amendment by legislators in the 2012 session; this will keep special interests from hacking up a plan that should create a level, pro-growth playing field. The goal is to unleash the potential of the people of Kentucky to prosper and create better lives for their families. While Williams and the Senate Republicans have successfully cut Kentucky’s income, property, and small business taxes in recent years, it is past time for a new system that will make restore Kentucky’s competitiveness.
• Improving the Budget Process. Lawmakers won’t pass another budget until 2012, but Senate Republicans believe the system by which the General Assembly passes a budget needs serious reform. The Senate GOP will offer legislation that would require a 48 hour window where legislators and citizens could review any bill that raises or spends tax dollars. The bill would be posted on the internet and given to legislators 48 hours before any vote is taken. The bill will also establish a more orderly timeline for the legislature to write the state budget so citizens have more opportunity to offer input on how their tax dollars are spent.
• Reforming Pensions for State Employees and Legislators. Senate Republicans will offer legislation to move new state employees (with the exception of teachers, who do not participate in Social Security) to a “defined contribution” plan instead of the current “defined benefit” system, which is bankrupting Kentucky. The legislation will also close loopholes in the current pension system that allowed some legislators to use executive branch positions to enrich their retirement packages at taxpayer expense. The legislature began the process of reforming the state pension system in 2008 but more must be done to put Kentucky’s fiscal house in order. Senate Republicans passed a legislative pension reform bill in the 2010 session but Senate Democrats block voted to kill it.
• Making State Government Transparent. State Senator Damon Thayer will offer legislation that requires all three branches of government to make financial information available to the public on the Internet in a user-friendly fashion. Taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being spent by state government.
• Creating Legislative Accountability. The Senate GOP proposes to move the filing deadline to run for office until after the legislative session so citizens can watch how their legislators perform and then decide whether to run for office. The current system protects legislators from possible opponents who take issue with how the incumbent votes during an even-year session in which the state budget is written. The bill would also move Kentucky’s primary back to August to accommodate the later filing period.
• Clean Elections. The Senate GOP proposes to eliminate all contributions by lobbyists or their spouses to any statewide candidate for office. Currently, there is one set of rules for legislators that restrict lobbyist contributions and a different system for the constitutional offices (Governor, Auditor, etc). The bill would require electronic filing of all campaign finance reports so citizens can better track the flow of money in a particular campaign.
• Fighting Medicaid Fraud. “False Claims” legislation will allow Kentucky to aggressively pursue and penalize health care providers and individuals who attempt to defraud the state’s health care program for low-income residents. Several states have already passed “false claims” legislation, including: California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
• Informed Consent. This pro-life legislation has passed the Senate previously. It would require women seeking an abortion to be given as much information as possible before making the decision, including ultrasound photos. Senate Republicans have a long record of fighting for the unborn.
• 21st Century Bill of Rights. Senate Republicans will again offer this important constitutional amendment. In 2010, Senate Democrats block voted to kill it, but in 2011 Senate Republicans will have enough votes to overcome them and send it to the House. The bill will assert Kentucky’s sovereignty under the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution; prevent citizens from being forced into an “Obamacare” federal health plan; prevent doctors and nurses from being forced to perform abortions; protect hunters’ rights; require any expansion of gambling be done so by a vote of the people; prevent environmental extremists from stopping coal mining in Kentucky; and affirm the freedom to make religious expressions, including posting the 10 Commandments.
• Eliminating Red Tape with Business OneStop. Businesses large and small in Kentucky are forced to interact with a huge number of agencies to renew permits, file paperwork, and pay taxes. This law would create a “one stop” portal for businesses to meet all of their state requirements on a single website. Cutting red tape and eliminating the time it takes to deal with the state bureaucracy will save time and resources for Kentucky’s job creators.
• Arizona-style Immigration Reform. Illegal immigration has placed a heavy burden on state and local governments, and the federal government has failed to enact needed reforms. The Senate GOP applauds Arizona policymakers for creating a strong, anti-illegal immigration law and proposes to do something similar in Kentucky. The proposal would require state law enforcement to make a reasonable attempt to verify the citizenship or immigration status of a person where reasonable suspicion exists that the person might be in Kentucky illegally. The law makes clear that local law enforcement agencies may arrest, detain and turn over to federal authorities people who are in the country illegally.