Conway releases jobs plan, offering contrast with Bevin on business and education issues

Democratic gubernatorial Candidate Jack Conway and his running mate, state Rep. Sannie Overly, announced a jobs plan Tuesday including proposed initiatives they say will strengthen Kentucky industries, cut red tape for businesses and prepare the workforce for good-paying jobs.

The Conway “Plan for Kentucky Jobs” includes sections with proposals relating to some of the state’s signature industries, “opening the door” to businesses and building the best workforce through education and skills training.

Similar to what he said in the Kentucky Chamber’s Primary Voter’s Guide, Conway discusses investments in early childhood education, upgrading the state’s broadband infrastructure, fighting for low-cost energy by protecting the coal industry, and the creation of a cabinet-level Office of Small Business Advocacy which he hopes will cut red tape for small business in the state.

In the plan, Conway states he plans to pay for the new cabinet-level office would work with small businesses to identify financial and regulatory challenges and address them. As for funding, Conway says the office will be paid for through savings found through “eliminating government inefficiencies without jeopardizing jobs.”

Also in the plan, Conway cited the Kentucky Chamber’s support of public-private partnership (P3) legislation and says a bill must be passed to help fund important infrastructure projects and other initiatives in a fiscally responsible way.

Republican candidate Matt Bevin has also released a plan he calls the “Blueprint for a Better Kentucky” which can be seen here. Bevin’s plan focuses on reforming Kentucky’s tax code, enacting right-to-work legislation, fixing the state’s pension problems and more.

Bevin’s plan for resolving the issues within the state’s public pension systems, which the Kentucky Chamber feels is the biggest financial threat facing the state, includes calling for outside examinations of all systems, enrolling all new hires in a standard 401(k) style plan, and increasing the contribution rates for current state employees.

As he discussed at the 29th annual Kentucky County Judge-Executives, Magistrates and Commissioners Summer Conference, Conway explains his education and workforce training priorities in the plan which he believes will help Kentucky build a stronger workforce. Among those recommendations, Conway says he wants to see access to high-quality early childhood education expanded and Kentucky’s college graduation rate raised to the national average.

Among the biggest goals mentioned in Conway’s jobs plan revolves around creating a statewide apprenticeship program through expanding programs like Kentucky Federation of Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME) and collaborations with the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) to help students get hands-on, paid experience in a field while also receiving a classroom education.

Conway said the effort will aim to allow Kentucky to become the “first state in the nation to have a coordinated, multi-industry, statewide apprenticeship program,” and mentions the possibility of tax credits to help businesses with the costs of the program and grants to encourage public-private partnerships to aid the program.

Bevin, on the other hand, centers his plan around school choice for parents to allow families to have a say in their child’s education, creating charter schools, incentivizing an education system that prepares a highly employable workforce, and repealing common core standards.

Reforming how state government deals with business is a central message throughout the Democratic nominee’s plan as he discusses conducting reviews of state cabinets, a closer look a procurement policies, and taking a “fiscally responsible approach” to tax policy.

“We will modernize state government, trim the waste, and refocus on production and returns to be more responsive to our business community,” Conway said.

Suggested tax policies made by Conway in the plan include phasing out the inventory tax with a goal of eliminating the state portion within the next four years, ensuring continuation of angel investor tax credits and examining the tax incentives offered to businesses.

In his plan, Bevin calls for modernizing the state’s tax code through reducing the complexity of the current system, reductions in tax exemptions, eliminating the “death tax” immediately, and gradually decreasing the personal and corporate income tax to give citizens more money to spur economic growth.

Bevin also calls for reforming the state’s government with suggested changes including consolidation or elimination of state cabinet agencies, boards, and commissions he believes are not serving an essential function, reducing the number of state employees to 2007 levels and decreasing the number of staff members in the offices of governor and lt. governor by at least 20 percent.

To read all of the details of Conway’s job plan, click here. See Bevin’s full plan by clicking here.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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