Is Kentucky the Next Puerto Rico?
Kentuckians can often claim, "We are the Forty Niners". Forty-Nineth nationwide in the incidence of unemployment, disability, illiteracy, cancer, high blood pressure, and lung disease. Our taxation system is a disaster waiting to get worse. Some say that there is a war on coal, but it appears that with the free market, this war is one of self destruction. Our current Governor wants to keep the poor in their current status, maintaining a low minimum wage, attacking organized labor and prevailing wage, and enabling retired public workers to prepare for applying for federal assistance programs. Kentucky's future seems bleak.
Kentuckians can say," At least we are not like Puerto Rico". But by the end of these four years this may not be the case. Certainly, there is a striking likeness between the Green Grass State and the Island of Enchantment. Debt abounds in both legal bodies. The island is also a "Commonwealth", although few can define what that means either here or there. Poverty is rampant on the island resulting in an impoverished tax basis. Puerto Rico is now relying on regressive sales taxes, recently raising its sales taxes from seven to twelve percent, with a value added tax soon to follow. Governor Bevin and his party have hinted that they too might follow this model. Puerto Rican programs have been covered by long term bonds which have not been covered and are now due. In both Commonwealths the debts are accumulating in the range of thirty to seventy billions of dollars, while government bond ratings have dropped.
Will teachers and other public servants be paid? Not in P.R., and there will be no new positions or pay raises in KY. In both cases tax funding sources are dwindling. In Kentucky, lower coal production means lower tax receipts, the same can be said of cigarette taxes, and reduced gasoline prices means reduced gas revenues. Bankruptcy has been suggested for Puerto Rico. While not currently permitted, it is receiving serious consideration. How might approval of this procedure be applicable for the states, like Kentucky?
Puerto Ricans have American citizenship and as such, can and have migrated by the hundreds of thousands to any state of their choosing. Could Kentucky be next? Puerto Ricans in the past have conducted plebiscites to choose if they want union with the U.S. or become politically independent. Is this another possibility open to Kentucky, to proclaim once and for all where it stands on the issue of States' Rights? Se habla espanol?