Wednesday, December 8, 2010

State Park Employees Feeling Pain of Budget Cuts

Majority Leader Rocky Adkins
Employees in our State Parks have had their hours reduced to thirty hours a week. Yes, the economy is bad and state government  has struggled the past few years but it comes down to priorities. Granted most of our parks are operating in the red but some of that has to do with the economy. As I have toured some of our state parks across Kentucky the last month it's obvious that many are in need of repair. From paint to bedspreads, many of the basic items need replaced. Our park facilities may not be in the best shape as they once were and this may also account for a decline in revenue.

The greatest ambassadors for Kentucky are our parks employees and I found it tough to listen to the choices many of them are having to make because of the reduced hours. One employee who wished to remain anonymous said, "Their cutting our front line employees." Many of the employees said they felt that it was unfair for parks employees to be cut back to thirty hours a week while other state employees were only furloughed six days.

When I asked House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins about this he stated, "We have the best state park system in the Nation because of the dedication and commitment of our state park employees." House Majority Whip John Will Stacy commented on the issue by saying, "Now there is a fifty-eight million dollar projected surplus and there is no need for the men and women of state government to sacrifice with this projected surplus." Rep. Stacy has championed the cause of the state employees and has pre-filed a bill regarding the furlough days.

The time has come for Kentucky to re-invest in our state parks and promote them nationwide. The time has come for Kentucky to upgrade the rooms with refrigerators and microwaves. The time has come to invest in needed small projects like bathrooms and a shower at Ken Lake's pool (My preferred state park). The time is now to restore the morale and the paychecks of our park employees.

It's a matter of priorities and charity & investment start with our people. We didn't have a problem dumping millions of dollars into a fancy horse show that lost money. Many of us in Rural Kentucky are still trying to figure out what the hell that was all about. I have no problems supporting a creation museum that has a big Ark but now probably isn't the best time to be spending money on that especially when we have park employees who are single moms trying to figure out how they're going to buy their kids something for Christmas. Besides we have a big structure in West Kentucky that has two of every kind of animal in it- We call it the State Penitentiary. Maybe we could sell tickets and peddle all that junk left over from the fancy horse show.

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