Ashland, KY – In his first of four town hall meetings, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear stopped in Ashland Monday to discuss his proposed plan of action for the state's 456-million dollar shortfall. Beshear spoke about education, a cigarette tax hike, as well as Medicare costs. He also took questions from the audience to get input from them on how they think legislators should offset the shortfall. Beshear says the proposed 70-cent cigarette tax increase is tough, but the state needs to come up with a way to bring in more revenue.
"Obviously there are some folks that would prefer no tax increases, and I happen to be one of them. I wish we were in a situation where we wouldn't have to be looking for additional revenue. But unfortunately, if we're going to have education as a priority, and healthcare a priority, and public protection as a priority, I don't see any way around having to raise some more revenue."
Beshear adds he's confident the state will pass some kind of increase to the state's cigarette tax. He vows to work with legislators to come up with a solution. Beshear has three more town hall meetings planned in Henderson, Dry Ridge and Hazard.